Sarah Vaughan On Piano Jazz

Sarah Vaughan. i

Sarah Vaughan. Raph Gatti/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Raph Gatti/AFP/Getty Images
Sarah Vaughan.

Sarah Vaughan.

Raph Gatti/AFP/Getty Images

Set List

  • "Misty" (Burke, Garner)
  • "You are So Beautiful" (Fisher, Preston)
  • "Nice Work If You Can Get It" (G. Gershwin, I. Gershwin)
  • "Tenderly" (Fields, McHugh)
  • "My Funny Valentine" (Hart, Rodgers)
  • "East of the Sun" (Bowman)
  • "I Can't Get Started" (Duke, Gershwin)
  • "There'll Be Other Times" (McPartland, Jones)
  • "Poor Butterfly" (Hubbell)
  • "Swingin' Till the Girls Come Home" (Pettiford)
  • "If You Could See Me Now" (Dameron, Sigman)

Singer Sarah Vaughan was born in Newark, N.J., in 1924. She began singing with her mother in the Mt. Zion Baptist Church. She also studied the piano as a child and, by age 12, had taken over organ duties at her church.

In 1942, when she was 18, Vaughan sang at the Apollo's Amateur Hour contest on a dare and went home with first prize. Singer Billy Eckstine was in attendance that night and recruited Vaughan into Earl Hines' Big Band, a group that included not only Eckstine, but also Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker.

Eckstine formed his own band in 1944 and took Vaughan with him. After a year with the group, she decided to strike out on her own. By the late '40s, Vaughan's star was on the rise. She added more and more pop tunes into her repertoire, and soon became one of the most popular singers of the day.

Vaughan spent the first part of the 1950s as a Columbia recording artist, playing mainly with its house orchestra, before signing with Mercury in 1954. While she released middle-of-the-road pop records for Mercury, she also recorded more straight-ahead jazz records for its jazz subsidiary, EmArcy, with such artists as Clifford Brown and Cannonball Adderley. In the early 1960s, Vaughan signed with Roulette Records and recorded with the Count Basie Band. She returned to Mercury in 1963, recording with groups led by Quincy Jones, Benny Carter, and Gerald Wilson.

In 1978, she recorded a legendary album with pianist Oscar Peterson, guitarist Joe Pass, bassist Ray Brown, and drummer Louie Bellson. She followed this with two albums of Duke Ellington's music and a 1982 album of Gershwin tunes, Gershwin Live, for which she won her first Grammy.

Vaughan continued to record and perform well in into her 60s. She received a 1981 Emmy Award for individual achievement and a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement in 1989, and she received her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Vaughan died on April 4, 1990, at the age of 66.

Originally recorded Jan. 17, 1986. Originally broadcast May 8, 1986.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.