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December 13, 2021

Sarah Vaughan: One of the Most Wondrous Voices of the 20th Century

Born 1924 in Newark, New Jersey, American jazz singer Sarah Vaughan grew up with a love of music and performing. Her first step toward becoming a professional singer was winning a talent competition held at Harlem’s Apollo Theater launched her singing career. She worked with bandleaders Earl Hines and Billy Eckstine before becoming a successful solo performer who commingled pop and jazz.


Nicknamed “Sassy” and “The Divine One”, Vaughan won four Grammy Awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award. 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’s final concert was given at New York’s Blue Note Club in 1989. She passed away from lung cancer in 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 career, Vaughan was recognized as a supremely gifted singer and performer. She was invited to perform at the White House and at venues like Carnegie Hall, was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 1989 and was selected to join the Jazz Hall of Fame in 1990. She also received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Take a look at these beautiful photos to see portraits of young Sarah Vaughan in the 1940s and 1950s.










































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