You’re a singer in the school glee club and organist at your Baptist Church – but with a passion for jitterbugging. On a whim, you enter The Apollo’s Wednesday night talent competition. You win the top prize – ten dollars for hot dogs and a week’s gig with Cootie Williams. You work the gig, and one night, Billy Eckstine is in the audience. Eckstine tells the leader of the band he sings for to hire her as second pianist and singer. And the bandleader he sings for is Earl Hines!
Sarah Vaughan lived that dream. She had that kind of instrument. That kind of power and complexity. In two weeks, the 19-year-old from Newark, New Jersey went from unknown to renowned -- recognized as one of the great voices in music.
Vaughan was one of those rare vocal artists who could find more in a song than the composer knew was there – certainly more than any lyric sheet would indicate. Like the beboppers who became her friends and collaborators soon after her professional career began, Vaughan liked playing with sound. And she had the ability to do it with credibility.