Sarah Vaughan, Vocal jazz Artist


Over the span of her career that lasted almost fifty years, she was considered the singer’s singer, influencing everyone from Mel Torme to Anita Baker.  She was among the musical elite who were identified by their first names.   

She was Sarah, and was nicknamed “Sassy” and “The Divine One”; she was a Grammy Award winner, and in 1989 The National Endowment for the Arts bestowed upon her its “highest honor in jazz”, the NEA Jazz Masters Award.




Born in Newark, New Jersey, U.S.

Genre: Vocal Jazz, Bebop, Bossa Nova, Traditional Pop Music,

Jazz critic Leonard Feather called her “the most important singer to emerge from the bop era.” Ella Fitzgerald called her the world’s “greatest singing talent.” During the course of a career that spanned nearly fifty years, she was the singer’s singer, influencing everyone from Mel Torme to Anita Baker. She was among the musical elite identified by their first names. She was Sarah, Sassy — the incomparable Sarah Vaughan.

Born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1924, Vaughan was immediately surrounded by music: her carpenter father was an amateur guitarist and her laundress mother was a church vocalist.  Young Sarah studied piano from the age of seven, and before entering her teens had become an organist and choir soloist at the Mount Zion Baptist Church.  When she was eighteen, friends dared her to enter the famed Wednesday Night Amateur Contest at Harlem’s Apollo Theater.  She gave a sizzling rendition of “Body and Soul,” and won first prize.  In the audience that night was the singer Billy Eckstine.  Six months later, she had joined Eckstine in Earl Hines’s big band along with jazz legends Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker.

When Eckstine formed his own band soon after, Vaughan went with him. Others including Miles Davis and Art Blakey were eventually to join the band as well.  Within a year, however, Vaughan wanted to give a solo career a try.  By late 1947, she had topped the charts with “Tenderly,” and as the 1940s gave way to the 1950s, Vaughan expanded her jazz repertoire to include pop music.  As a result, she enlarged her audience, gained increased attention for her formidable talent, and compiled additional hits, including the Broadway show tunes “Whatever Lola Wants” and “Mr. Wonderful.”  While jazz purists balked at these efforts, no one could deny that in any genre, Vaughan had one of the greatest voices in the business.

Biographical information courtesy of Sarah Vaughan | About Sarah Vaughan | American Masters | PBS. For more reading see link below