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Sarah Vaughan

Sarah VaughanAKA Sarah Lois Vaughan

Born: 28-Mar-1924
Birthplace: Newark, NJ
Died: 3-Apr-1990
Location of death: Hidden Hills, CA
Cause of death: Cancer - Lung
Remains: Buried, Glendale Cemetery, Bloomfield, NJ

Gender: Female
Race or Ethnicity: Black
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Singer

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: The Divine One

Sarah Vaughan first began to develop her remarkable voice at the age of 7, singing in the choir of the Mount Zion Baptist Church in New Jersey. By the start of her teen years, she was also playing the organ during services and studying the piano. While still very young her talents reached such an advanced stage that she dropped out of school and began competing in talent contests; one such contest (which she won) at the Apollo Theater in 1942 landed her a job as vocalist and second pianist of The Earl Hines Orchestra. A year later she left along with Billy Eckstine (who had been responsible for bringing her into the band) to form a Bebop ensemble with notable players including Dizzy Gillespie and Art Blakey. With this group Vaughan initiated her recording career, the first session taking place for the Continental label in 1944.

By the end of the 1940s Vaughan was releasing albums under her own name as an artist for Columbia Records. That same year she married trumpet player George Treadwell who soon afterward became her manager, understanding fully the relevance of her talent and arranging a busy schedule of sessions and touring for his wife well into the next decade. Recordings with Miles Davis were also created for Columbia in 1950, followed by a considerable number of pop and jazz albums released either by Mercury Records (for pop) or its associated label EmArcy (for jazz). Both her marriage to Treadwell and her contract with Mercury had expired by 1959, and a change to Roulette Records -- also the home of Count Basie at the time -- was made in 1960. Around this time she married C. B. Atkins who, like Treadwell, would serve as her manager throughout their marriage.

During the 1960s, Vaughan's musical output veered more towards the pop end of her spectrum. In 1962 she divorced Atkins; the following year she left Roulette and returned to Mercury, initiating a working relationship with Quincy Jones that would result in a number of worthy recordings before she again left Mercury in 1967. After a five year hiatus from recording Vaughan then signed with the Pablo Label and once again turned towards her jazz roots, appearing at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1974. Several excursions into Latin-jazz territory were subsequently made, as well as a pair of albums interpreting Duke Ellington compositions.

Despite deteriorating health, Vaughan continued to record and perform until the end of the 1980s. An album of Gershwin tunes with The Los Angeles Philharmonic earned her a Grammy award in 1982, while a televised concert in the later half of the decade featured her with both old friends such as Dizzy Gillespie and the next generation of jazz performers like Herbie Hancock. She succumbed to lung cancer in 1990.

Husband: George Treadwell (musician, m. 1947, div.)
Husband: C. B. Atkins (m. 1959, div. 1962)
Daughter: Paris

    Grammy Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Female (1982)
    NEA Jazz Master 1989
    Risk Factors: Smoking

    Listen Up: The Lives of Quincy Jones (3-Oct-1990) · Herself
    Murder, Inc. (28-Jun-1960) · Singer

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