Vaughan, Sarah (Lois)

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Vaughan, Sarah (Lois)

Vaughan, Sarah (Lois), legendary and extremely talented jazz singer, pianist; b. Newark, N.J., March 27, 1924; d. Los Angeles, April 3, 1990. She began to study music as a child and sang and played piano in church in her native Newark. On a dare she entered the famous Apollo Theater Amateur Hour contest and won, singing “Body and Soul.” Billy Eckstine heard her and recommended her to his boss, Earl Hines. This was in 1943, when Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie were in the Hines band; Vaughan followed them into Eckstine’s new and revolutionary big band in late 1944, remaining with the group through 1945. She worked with John Kirby (1945-46) and subsequently pursued a successful solo career as a jazz and pop singer, appearing on radio, television, and recordings, often dueting with Eckstine. From the 1950s she toured usually with a trio. Vaughan enjoyed a long relationship with Mercury Records between 1954-63, often using jazz musicians associated with the label’s EmArcy jazz division, including Clifford Brown and Count Basie, as her sidemen. Her career went into somewhat of a slump in the mid-1960s, and she did not return to recording until 1971. Although Vaughan recorded prolifically in the last two decades of her life and often focused on jazz material, she also turned to recording a wider variety of pop material. She often sang with symphony orchestras in the 1980s and also sang in the London studio recording of South Pacific ’86on CBS, with Kiri Te Kanawa and Jose Carreras in leading roles. One of Vaughan’s most unusual projects was recording songs based on poems by Pope John Paul II at a live concert in Dusseldorf in 1985—The Planet Is Alive...Let It Live. She had the Pope’s poems adapted in English by lyricist Gene Lees and put to music by Italian composers. Vaughan continued performing until six months before her death from lung cancer in 1990.

With her effortless swing, wide vocal range (said to have been three octaves or more), exciting scatting (though she rarely did it except on an occasional blues), perfect pitch, and vocal color, Vaughan was hailed as one of the century’s great singers.


Time After Time (1944); Lover Man (1945); The Man I Love (1945); The Divine Sarah (1946); It’s You or No One (1946); Tenderly (1946); Time and Again (1946); One Night Stand: The Town Hall Concert (1947); In Hi Fi (1949); I’ll Be Seeing You (1949); Hot Jazz (1953); Swingin’ Easy (1954); The Divine Sarah Sings (1954); Sarah Vaughan with Clifford Brown (1954); The Gershwin Songbook (1954); The Rodgers & Hart Songbook (1954); Tops in Pops (1955); In the Land of Hi-Fi (1955); Sassy (1956); Linger Awhile (1956); At Mister Kelly’s (1957); The Irving Berlin Songbook (1957); Misty (1958); No Count Sarah (1958); Great Songs from Hit Shows, Vol. I, 2 (1959); Dreamy (1960); After Hours (1961); Star Eyes (1962); You’re Mine You (1962); Sarah Sings Soulfully (1963); Sassy Swings the Tivoli (1963); Vaughan with Voices (1964); Viva! Vaughan (1965); Sarah Vaughan Sings the Mancini Songbook (1965); Sassy Swings Again (1967); With Michel Legrand (1972); Live in Japan, Vol. I, 2 (1973); I Love Brazil (1977); How Long Has This Been Going On? (1978); The Duke Ellington Songbook, Vol. 1, 2 (1979); Crazy and Mixed Up (1982); Billy and Sarah (1985); Sarah Vaughan at the Blue Note (1985); Brazilian Romance (1987).


R. Leydi, S. V (Milan, 1961).

—Music Master Jazz and Blues Catalogue/Lewis Porter/Nicolas Slonimsky

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Vaughan, Sarah (Lois)

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