Sarah Vaughan

Sarah Lois Vaughan (March 27, 1924 – April 3, 1990) was an American jazz singer and pianist. Nicknamed “Sassy” and “The Divine One“, she won two Grammy Awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award, and was nominated for a total of nine Grammy Awards. She was given an NEA Jazz Masters Award in 1989. Critic Scott Yanow wrote that she had “one of the most wondrous voices of the 20th century”.

Vaughan was born in Newark, New Jersey. Vaughan was frequently accompanied by a friend, Doris Robinson, on her trips into New York City. In the fall of 1942, by which time she was 18 years old, Vaughan suggested that Robinson enter the Apollo Theater Amateur Night contest. Vaughan played piano accompaniment for Robinson, who won second prize. Vaughan later decided to go back and compete as a singer herself. She sang “Body and Soul” and won—although the date of this victorious performance is uncertain. The prize, as Vaughan recalled to Marian McPartland, was $10 and the promise of a week’s engagement at the Apollo. On November 20, 1942, she returned to the Apollo to open for Ella Fitzgerald.

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