By Michael Baadke
Sarah Vaughan was born in Newark, N.J., on March 27, 1924, and attended Mount Zion Baptist Church and Newark Arts High School.
After winning first prize by singing Body and Soul during amateur night at the Apollo Theater, the 18-year-old became a featured vocalist in a band led by Earl “Fatha” Hines that also included legendary jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie.
Vaughan joined Billy Eckstine’s band in 1944 and embarked on a solo career the following year. Her 1946 recording of If You Could See Me Now has been inducted into the Grammy hall of fame. She had a hit in 1947 with her recording of Tenderly, and this pop success enlarged her audience because she also made jazz standards and show tunes her own with a flawless voice and extraordinary range.
Her recordings climbed the charts well into the 1960s, with hits such as It’s Magic (1948), Whatever Lola Wants (1955), Someone to Watch Over Me (1958), Broken Hearted Melody (1959), and many others. Her signature songs included Misty (1959) and Send in the Clowns (1974).
When Vaughan died in 1990, singer Mel Torme was quoted as saying, “She had the single best vocal instrument of any singer working in the popular field.”
Her many accolades included a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award in 1989, and induction into the Jazz Academy’s Ertegun Hall of Fame in 2010.
Vaughan was honored on a United States nondenominated (49¢) forever stamp issued March 29, 2016, in the Music Icons commemorative series (Scott 5059).