Sarah Vaughan Biography
Sarah Vaughan nicknamed for her real name, Sarah Lois Vaughan was an American jazz singer for her lifetime profession. She was described by music critic Scott Yanow as having "one of the most wondrous voices of the 20th century." Due to her fluent and pleasant singing skill, she was nicknamed as Sassy, “The Divine One” and “Sailor” by her fans and followers. She was a Grammy Award winner. On the list of her achievements, The National Endowment for the Arts bestowed upon her its "highest honor in jazz", the NEA Jazz Masters Award, in 1989. She is known for singing "Send in the Clowns" and "Broken-Hearted Melody."
Sarah was born on March 27, 1924, in Newark, New Jersey. Vaughan's father, Asbury "Jake" Vaughan, was a carpenter by trade and played guitar and piano. Her mother, Ada Vaughan, was a laundress and sang in the church choir. Later her parents migrated to Newark from Virginia during the First World War. Sarah was their only biological child, later in 1960 they again adopted Donna, the child of a woman who traveled on the road with Sarah Vaughan. Sarah has spent her entire childhood at Newark. Sarah Vaughan grew up with a love of music and performing. Growing up in Newark, a young Sarah Vaughan studied the piano and organ, and her voice could be heard as a soloist at Mount Zion Baptist Church. She began piano lessons at the age of seven, sang in the church choir and occasionally played piano for rehearsals and services as for reason of her parents being deeply religious. After winning a talent competition held at Harlem's Apollo Theater launched her singing career. Later she also worked with bandleaders Earl Hines and Billy Eckstine before becoming a successful solo performer who commingled pop and jazz.
Vaughan started her journey to be a singer from participating in a talent contest held at Harlem's Apollo Theater, where many African-American music legends made their name. After being dared to enter, she won the 1942 competition with her rendition of "Body and Soul." She also caught the attention of another vocalist, Billy Eckstine, who persuaded Earl Hines to hire Vaughan to sing with his orchestra.
In 1944, Vaughan left Hines to join Eckstine’s new band. She also started working with Eckstine were trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and saxophonist Charlie Parker, who introduced the group to a new form of jazz, known as bebop. After performing with Eckstine's orchestra for a year, Vaughan briefly worked with John Kirby before leaving big bands behind to become a solo artist. By this time she was already nicknamed as Sassy as a commentary on her onstage style.
Next decade in her journey proved to be luckier for her as she got chance to produce more pop music. She sang hits like "Whatever Lola Wants" (1955), "Misty" (1957) and "Broken-Hearted Melody" (1959), which sold more than a million copies. Vaughan gave concerts in the United States and Europe, and her singing was also heard in films such as Disc Jockey (1951) and Basin Street Revue (1956). Vaughan's later recordings include interpretations of Beatles songs and Brazilian music. Over the years, she collaborated with people like producer Quincy Jones, pianist Oscar Peterson and conductor Michael Tilson Thomas. Vaughan won her first Grammy thanks to her work with Thomas and the Los Angeles Philharmonic on Gershwin Live! (1982).
Vaughan's final concert was given at New York's Blue Note Club in 1989. She passed away from lung cancer on April 3, 1990, at age 66, in Hidden Hills, a suburb of Los Angeles, California. Married and divorced four times, she was survived by her adopted daughter.
Throughout her singing career, Vaughan was recognized as a supremely gifted singer and performer out of so many singers. Once she was invited to perform at the White House and at venues like Carnegie Hall, and was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 1989 and also was selected to join the Jazz Hall of Fame in 1990. She had also received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.