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Sarah Vaughan

Sarah Vaughan
Usage Conditions Apply
Josef Breitenbach, 03 Apr 1896 - 07 Oct 1984
Sarah Vaughan, 27 Mar 1924 - 3 Apr 1990
Gelatin silver print
Image: 34.2 x 26.7 cm (13 7/16 x 10 1/2")
Sheet: 25.4 x 27.8 cm (10 x 10 15/16")
Mat: 71.1 x 55.9 cm (28 x 22")
Frame: 71.9 x 56.7 x 3.2 cm (28 5/16 x 22 5/16 x 1 1/4")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Restrictions & Rights
Usage conditions apply
© The Josef and Yaye Breitenbach Charitable Foundation
Object number
Exhibition Label
Born Newark, New Jersey
Known popularly as “the divine Sarah” and “Sassy,” Sarah Vaughan was regarded as one of the premier female vocalists of her day. Drawn to music from an early age, she studied piano and sang in her church choir as a youth. When Vaughan was eighteen, she entered an amateur talent contest at Harlem’s Apollo Theater on a dare and won first prize. This success led to frequent invitations to perform alongside the leading figures in contemporary jazz, including Earl “Fatha” Hines, Dizzy Gillespie, and Billy Eckstein. Adept at bebop improvisation, Vaughan possessed a wonderfully versatile voice that complemented a larger jazz ensemble. By 1950—the year in which Josef Breitenbach created this portrait—she was selling upwards of three million records a year. During this period, a poll in Down Beat magazine named her the top female singer for six consecutive years.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
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