Jazz Legend Sarah Vaughan Joins Other Black Music Greats with Commemorative Stamp

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The U.S. Postal Service is honoring jazz singer Sarah Vaughan, famous for her 1966 song “Broken-Hearted Melody,” with a commemorative Forever Stamp.

The stamp was unveiled Tuesday in her hometown of Newark, New Jersey, two days after what would have been her 92nd birthday. According to NBC News, the stamp is based on a 1955 image by photographer Hugh Bell.

“As one of the most compelling vocalists in American history, Sarah Vaughan was renowned for her artistic eloquence,” General Ronald Stroman, the Deputy Postmaster, said in a media release. “Her dynamic vocal range, iconic vibrato, and innovative phrasing helped to transform jazz and popular music.”

The jazz starlet was born in Newark in 1924, a few years before the Great Depression devastated the country. In the late 1940s, Vaughan was the most active, singing in nightclubs and touring with Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and Billy Eckstine. By 1947, she had topped the charts with her single “Tenderly.”

From 1948-53, she was under the Columbia label. Her songs climbed the charts, and from that success came popularity and notoriety. Some of her top songs from this period included:

  • “That Lucky Old Sun”

    Photo by William P. Gottlieb
    Photo by William P. Gottlieb
  • “Make Believe (You Are Glad When You’re Sorry)”
  • “I’m Crazy to Love You”
  • “Our Very Own”
  • “I Love the Guy”
  • “Thinking of You”
  • “I Cried for You”
  • “These Things I Offer You”
  • “Vanity”
  • “I Ran All the Way Home”
  • “Saint or Sinner”
  • “My Tormented Heart”
  • “Time”

Her singing voice was dynamic and unforgettable. She had been with various record labels, but the 1950s and ’60s was the height of her success. Albums like 1954’s Sarah Vaughan with Clifford Brown was celebrated and put into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. San Francisco and Berkeley, California signed proclamations in 2003, making March 27 “Sarah Lois Vaughan Day” in their cities.

Vaughan may not have been well remembered like Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne or Billie Holiday, but her talent was just as big. During the course of her career that spanned nearly 50 years, she was celebrated by her contemporaries and those who came after her.

According to jazz scholar Leonard Feather, her music has influenced everyone from Mel Torme to Anita Baker.

This stamp will be the latest addition to the Post Office’s Music Icons series, which includes Ray Charles, Jimi Hendrix and others.

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