Queen of Bebop: The Musical Lives of Sarah Vaughan

Queen of Bebop: The Musical Lives of Sarah Vaughan

by Elaine M. Hayes


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Queen of Bebop brilliantly chronicles the life of jazz singer Sarah Vaughan, one of the most influential and innovative musicians of the twentieth century and a pioneer of women’s and civil rights

Sarah Vaughan, a pivotal figure in the formation of bebop, influenced a broad array of singers who followed in her wake, yet the breadth and depth of her impact—not just as an artist, but also as an African-American woman—remain overlooked.  

Drawing from a wealth of sources as well as on exclusive interviews with Vaughan’s friends and former colleagues, Queen of Bebop unravels the many myths and misunderstandings that have surrounded Vaughan while offering insights into this notoriously private woman, her creative process, and, ultimately, her genius. Hayes deftly traces the influence that Vaughan’s singing had on the perception and appreciation of vocalists—not to mention women—in jazz. She reveals how, in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Vaughan helped desegregate American airwaves, opening doors for future African-American artists seeking mainstream success, while also setting the stage for the civil rights activism of the 1960s and 1970s. She follows Vaughan from her hometown of Newark, New Jersey, and her first performances at the Apollo, to the Waldorf Astoria and on to the world stage, breathing life into a thrilling time in American music nearly lost to us today.

Equal parts biography, criticism, and good old-fashioned American success story, Queen of Bebop is the definitive biography of a hugely influential artist. This absorbing and sensitive treatment of a singular personality updates and corrects the historical record on Vaughan and elevates her status as a jazz great.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062364692
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 07/03/2018
Pages: 432
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Elaine M. Hayes holds a doctorate in music history and is a recognized expert on Sarah Vaughan and women in jazz. She served as the editor of Earshot Jazz and is a contributing writer to Seattle magazine. She lives in Seattle with her husband and son.

Table of Contents

Prologue 1

Part I An Artist Is Born, 1924-1947 9

1 "There Was No Sign of Any Kind of Voice" 15

2 "Ah Mon Vieux, This Chick Is Groovy!" 37

3 "I'm Not Singing Other People's Ideas" 65

4 "The Most Talked About Voice in America" 83

Part II A Star Is Born, 1948-1958 99

5 "The Girl with the Magic Voice" 107

6 "She's Vaughanderful. She's Marvelous" 129

7 "Sarah Vaughan and Her Pygmalion" 145

8 "Sarah Vaughan Is Finally on the Way to the Pot of Gold" 163

9 "The High Priestess of Jazz" 183

Part III A Career Is Reborn, 1959-1990 213

10 "They Say You Can't Teach New Tricks to Old Dogs-So Get New Dogs!" 219

11 "The No. 1 Singer of a Decade Ago" 243

12 "I'm Not a Jazz Singer. I'm a Singer" 265

13 "Here I Go Again" 283

14 "The Marian Anderson of Modern Jazz" 299

15 "I'm Just Coming into My Prime" 321

Epilogue: "The Greatest Vocal Artist of Our Century" 357

Acknowledgments 367

Notes 371

Index 403

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