Because Sarah grew up hearing her mother sing in the church choir, it seemed only natural for her to follow her mothers' footsteps and become involved with the musical life of the church. By October of 1942, 18 year old Sarah had already been playing the organ for years for choir rehearsals on Saturday mornings and for Sunday services. In addition to weekend services, she also played during the week for the children of the congregation. Sarah's parents found themselves in Newark, New Jersey after migrating from Virginia during the First World War. They also found that the church was growing because of the waves of people migrating from the south.
It started with trumpet player, Jabbo Smith, who recalls encouraging young Sarah to try to win an amateur night contest at the Apollo. For Sarah to try to win the contest was natural. She knew of many professional musicians who tried for prizes there and won. Before deciding she would perform on the Apollo stage herself, she encouraged Doris Robinson to compete and Sarah would accompany her on the piano. As a result, Doris won second place and split the money with Vaughan fifty-fifty. On an October night in 1942, Sarah "went on a dare" to the Apollo on the condition that her friends would be in the audience to cheer her on. Sarah Vaughan arrived so late on the night she was supposed to perform that Ralf Cooper, Sr., master of ceremonies, didn't w...
... middle of paper ...
...e home!" she told her daughter. At that time her daughter was working as an actress under the name Paris Vaughan and was featured in a television movie on the night of April 4th 1990 which happened to be forty-sixth anniversary of the day she official joined the Earl Hines band. "She died while watching the film."
Buried in Glendale Cemetery in Bloomfield, New Jersey, her death was a shock to many. In 1991 Carmen McRae put out an album entitled A Tribute to Sarah which celebrated the modest, shy, vulnerable side of her old friend.
Friedwald, Will. Jazz Singing. New York: Macmillan, 1990.
Gourse, Leslie. Sassy: The Life of Sarah Vaughan. New York: Macmillan, 1993.
Nagel, Carol DeKane. African American Reference Library. New York: U X L, 1995.
Schuller, Gunther. The Swing Era: the Development of Jazz, 1930-1945. New York: Oxford, 1989.
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