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Sarah Lois Vaughan, 27 March 1924, Newark, New Jersey, USA, d. 3 April 1990, Los Angeles, California, USA. Although she was not born into an especially musical home environment (her father was a carpenter and her mother worked in a laundry), the young Sarah Vaughan had plenty of contact with music-making. As well as taking piano lessons for nearly 10 years, she sang in her church choir and became the organist at the age of 12. Her obvious talent for singing won her an amateur contest at Harlems Apollo theatre in 1942, and opportunities for a musical career quickly appeared. Spotted by Billy Eckstine, who was at the time singing in Earl Fatha Hines big band, she was invited to join Hines band as a female vocalist and second pianist in 1943. Eckstine had been sufficiently impressed by Vaughan to give her a place in his own band, formed a year later.
It was here that she met fellow band members and pioneers of...