Vaughan, Sarah

Vaughan, Sarah (Sarah Lois Vaughan), 1924–90, American jazz singer, b. Newark, N.J. Nicknamed “Sassie” and “the divine one,” she studied piano and organ, began singing in her church choir, and won (1942) the famous amateur contest at Harlem's Apollo Theater. Subsequently, she sang with bands led by Earl “Fatha” Hines, Billy Eckstine, and John Kirby. During this period she was also associated with Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, learning much from their bebop horn stylings. From 1947 on, Vaughan worked as a soloist, becoming one of jazz's finest vocalists. An alto who moved easily from honeyed to harsh, from bass notes to soaring highs, she had a four-octave range and finely controlled vibrato. Vaughan was acclaimed for her performance of such songs as “Lover Man,” “It's Magic,” and “Misty.” An active recording artist from the mid-1940s on, she frequently (1950s–80s) toured the United States and Europe.

See biographies by L. Gourse (1993), M. Ruuth (1994), and E. M. Hayes (2017); discography by D. Brown (1991).

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