“Sarah Vaughan” by Kate Shaffer
Artist: Kate Shaffer
Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 36″ x 24″
Description: Sarah Vaughan: born in 1924 into a musical and very religious family. Sarah grew up playing piano and singing in the church choir. Sarah fell in love with popular music and began sneaking out in her teens to play and sing illegally in a local nightclub. When her musical adventures overwhelmed her studies, she dropped out of high school to pursue music. In 1942, after playing piano at the Apollo competition for a friend, she decided to go back and compete herself. Sarah won the $10 prize and week of performances at the Apollo. She returned to claim her prize late in 1942 to open for Ella Fitzgerald. After several years singing with Earl Hines’ Big Band and Dizzy Gillespie in 1945 Sarah went out on her own to begin her solo career. She was picked up by Musicraft Records and became the first singer to record Tenderly in 1947. The song became a huge hit and Sarah went on to record several more hits. One song, Nature Boy was also recorded by Nat King Cole. Under the stipulations of the musicians union Sarah had to record the song with an acapella choir. The second recording ban put Musicraft out of business and couldn’t pay Sarah. She used this breach of contract to sign with Columbia Records in 1949. Sarah went on to record a string of hits for Columbia till she left the label in 1953. 1949 also brought her acclaim as she performed with a full orchestra to benefit the Philadelephia Orchestra. This got her the nickname “The Divine One” which would follow her the rest of her career. Experiencing a string of success’ including singing at the first Newport Jazz Festival and Carnegie Hall. Sarah rose to widespread acclaim and had an almost non-stop touring schedule. Her personal life was much more challenging. Her first marriage left her with little money in spite of large income figures. Her second husband was violent and after her divorce she found he had left her $150,000 in debt. In spite of her personal problems, Sarah retained custody of her child and brought herself back to financial stability. By 1963 she performed at the White House for Johnson and his guest the Shah of Iran. Sarah had a huge vocal range and sang many kinds of music. She could have sung opera, but the style “wasn’t for her”. Sarah’s impact in the jazz world and the world of music include inspiring such singers as Phoebe Snow, Anita Baker, Sade and Rickie Lee Jones. Sarah’s awards include having an album inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame, an honorary doctorate from Berklee School of Music, induction into the New Jersey Hall of Fame from her home state, a Gershwin Lifetime Achievement Award, and Sarah Vaughan Day in Berkeley, CA. Sarah was diagnosed with lung cancer and sang her last performances at the Blue Note Jazz Club in NYC but was too ill to finish her scheduled appearances. She died in 1990 at age 66 while watching a television movie co-starring her daughter.
Commission a smaller version, 16×20 for $700 each.