The late jazz vocalist Sarah Vaughan captivated listeners with her operatic range and bold performances over the course of her decades-long career. The “Divine One” is now immortalized by way of a ‘Forever’ stamp released today by the United States Postal Service.
Sarah Lois Vaughan was born March 27, 1924 in Newark, N.J. Raised in a musical family, Vaughan learned her love of music from her parents who juggled day jobs along with their creative pursuits. As a young girl, Vaughan was known for her singing and piano playing abilities at her local church. But Vaughan’s heart was set on performing the popular music of her era.
In high school, Vaughan found the allure of music stronger than completing her studies and dropped out in her junior year. Her travels led her to Harlem, New York and she found steady work performing in small lounges. While still in her teens, Vaughan entered the amateur night competition at the famed Apollo Theater in Harlem and won.
Vaughan’s performance caught the ear of legendary bandleader Billy Eckstine, who recruited her to sing with his orchestra in 1943. That association catapulted Vaughan to such success, she eventually became a solo act in the mid-1940’s.
A brief look at Vaughan’s lengthy discography reveals over 50 album releases, eight live albums, and a pair of compilation albums. Vaughan’s final recorded appearance took place in 1989 after she starred on a number of tracks for Quincy Jones’ Back On The Block album.
Vaughan succumbed to lung cancer at the age of 66 in April 1990. She was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998 for the 1946 song “If You Could See Me Now” and the following year for the 1954 album, Sarah Vaughan with Clifford Brown.