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She studied two years singing in Washington, D.C. After that, she appeared on several night clubs in California and she went with some shows on tour. Until 1930 she toured with bands by the USA and Australia. From 1930 to February 1931 she performed in a show in Chicago (' Grand Terace Cafe '). Until 1931, she worked with pianist Earl Hines. On his Duke Ellington took her to recommend as a singer, February 1931 to 1942 's what they would continue.
She sang at Ellington well-known songs like "It don't mean a thing", "Stormy weather", "Rocks in my bed", "I got it bad (and that ain't good)" and "In a mellow tone". Her voice was ' classy ', bright, swinging, supple, sweet and a little cool. Anderson is seen as the best vocalist that Ellington ever has had in his band. Nat Hentoff reports, in a column about Ivie Anderson: "Ivie was much more than a ' girl singer '. She was a ' sidewoman '. "
She had to give up her work for Ellington, because they had chronic asthma . She started a restaurant in Los Angeles (' Ivie's Chicken Shack ') and still sang in nightclubs. In 1946 she took eight songs, however, her health deteriorated and Anderson on. died at the age of 44. She was buried at Angelus-Rosedale Cemetery.