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Thu, 03.27.1924

Sarah Vaughn, could she sing or WHAT

Sarah Vaughn

*Sarah Vaughan was born on this date in 1924. She was a Black vocalist and the singer of choice among boppers in the early 1940s.

From Newark, New Jersey, Vaughan grew up singing in her Mt. Zion Baptist Church and took piano and organ lessons. In 1943, after winning an amateur contest at the Apollo Theatre, Earl Hines hired her as a singer and pianist. Vaughn worked a short stint with John Kirby and then went solo. Her early recordings, such as If You Could See Me Now and Tenderly (her first hit), were among the hippest records of their day.

Vaughan recorded Gillespie’s A Night in Tunisia in 1944, under the title Interlude. From 1949 to 1954, Vaughan became an international star, recording mostly commercial albums, many of them backed by strings, though in 1950, she recorded with an octet that included Miles Davis. In the mid-’50s, she began to record jazz, producing two classic albums, Sarah Vaughan With Clifford Brown, and Swingin’ Easy, with Richard Davis, Roy Haynes and others.

During her last period, Vaughan recorded for Pablo, producing two excellent albums of Duke Ellington songs. Her "legit" technique, sophisticated carriage, and sense of the infrastructure of popular songs reflected key values admired by the new breed of jazz musicians. “The Divine One,” as she has been called had operatic range and control and a crooning vibrato that echoed Billy Eckstine’s. Nearly every singer, who followed her, imitated her chops and style. Dozens of her recordings remain in print.

She disavowed being strictly a jazz singer, until her death on April 3, 1990, in Los Angeles.

Heart & Soul
A Celebration of Black Music Style in America 1930-1975
by Merlis Davin Seay, Forward by Etta james
Copyright 2002, Billboard Books
ISBN 0-8230-8314-4

To Become a Musician or Singer


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