Giant Steps: Jazz Greats
Courtesy of Library of Congress.
Like Ella Fitzgerald before her, Sarah Vaughan's singing career began when she won a singing contest at New York's Apollo Theater in 1942, after entering on a dare from a friend. Her impressive range and ability to dramatically modulate her voice drew the attention of the bandleader Billy Eckstine, who introduced Vaughan to jazz and to musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. Vaughan's beautiful vocals drew well-deserved praise, though at several points in her career she was criticized by jazz purists who resented the fact that she also recorded mainstream pop music. In time Vaughan moved away from pop music, which she had never truly enjoyed, and devoted her life to touring. Her slow, emotional performance of "Send in the Clowns," recorded with the Count Basie Orchestra in 1982, drew universal acclaim, and Vaughan was awarded a Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1989.