WRTI's Essential Jazz Artist No. 11: Sarah Vaughan

Jan 27, 2017

Call her “Sassy,” “Sass,” or “The Divine One,” but Sarah Vaughan had a “once in a lifetime, perhaps once in several lifetimes” voice, as jazz critic Gary Giddins wrote. She won four GRAMMYs, including a Lifetime Achievement Award, and the NEA Jazz Masters Award.

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What you may not know about Sarah Vaughan:

  • She was born in Virginia but the family moved to Newark, N.J., where she grew up.
  • The first time Vaughan competed at Harlem’s Apollo Theater, she didn’t sing. She played the piano for her friend, who won 2nd Prize.
  • Vaughan went back and won 1st Prize, singing “Body and Soul.”
  • For her first big job, Earl “Fatha” Hines used her in his band as a singer, but he hired her as a pianist.
  • She lived for years in California and died there, but was buried from her home church, Mount Zion Baptist in Newark.

Bob Perkins, Meridee Duddleston, and the U.S. Postal Service put their stamp of approval on Sarah Vaughan.