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Sarah Vaughan

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Newark, New York NJ, United States (1924 – 1990)

Sarah Lois Vaughan (nicknamed “Sassy” and “The Divine One”) (March 27, 1924, Newark, New Jersey – April 3, 1990, Los Angeles, California) was an American , described as “possessor of one of the most wondrous voices of the 20th century”. Jazz critic Leonard Feather called her “the most important singer to emerge from the era.” Ella Fitzgerald called her the world’s “greatest singing talent. ” When introduced in her two-part interview of 1980 on The Dick Cavett Show, Cavett quipped (in a takeoff on a well known Sarah Lee product advertising slogan of the time), “Everybody doesn’t like something, but nobody doesn’t like Sarah Vaughn.” During the course of a career that spanned nearly fifty years, she was the singer’s singer, influencing everyone from Mel Torme to Anita Baker. She was among the musical elite identified by their first names. She was Sarah, Sassy — the incomparable Sarah Vaughan.

Sarah Vaughan’s father, Asbury “Jake” Vaughan, was a carpenter and amateur guitarist. Her mother, Ada, was a laundress. Jake and Ada Vaughan migrated to Newark from Virginia during the First World War. Sarah was their only natural child, although in the 1960s they adopted Donna, the child of a woman who traveled on the road with Sarah Vaughan. The Vaughans lived in a house on Newark’s Brunswick street for Sarah’s entire childhood. Jake Vaughan was deeply religious and the family was very active in the New Mount Zion Baptist Church on 186 Thomas Street.

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