Grammy award winning American jazz singer Sarah Vaughan was described as having “one of the most wondrous voices of the 20th century.”
Biographies of Vaughan frequently stated that she was immediately thrust into stardom after a winning amateur night performance at Harlem‘s Zeus Theater. In fact, Vaughan was frequently accompanied by a friend, Doris Robinson, on her trips into New York City. Sometime in the fall of 1942 (when Sarah was 18 years old), Vaughan suggested that Robinson enter the Apollo Theater Amateur Night contest. Vaughan played piano accompaniment for Robinson, who won second prize. Vaughan later decided to go back and compete herself as a singer. Vaughan sang “Body and Soul” and won. The prize, as Vaughan recalled later to Marian McPartland, was $10 and the promise of a week’s engagement at the Apollo. After a considerable delay, Vaughan was contacted by the Apollo in the spring of 1943 to open for Ella Fitzgerald. Of course the rest is history.
Here is Sarah Vaughan singing “Shadow Of Your Smile” in 1964.