Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1955 Sarah Vaughn – How Important Can It Be

1955 Sarah Vaughn – How Important Can It Be

Sarah Vaughn grew up in Newark, New Jersey. She attended Newark Arts High School until her junior year. She dropped out of school to pursue a musical career. Sarah was an accomplished piano player as well as an extremely talented singer.

Sarah appeared at amateur night at the Apollo and won the $10 first prize in 1942. Winning also granted her a one-week engagement at the Apollo, and that led to a job with the Earl Hines Big Band.

By 1945, Sarah was appearing as a solo act in clubs in New York City. She began recording for Musicraft in 1946. Her first four singles failed to chart, but her recording of Tenderly reached #27 on the Hot 100 in 1947.

She released nine top twenty singles during the next four years. After that, she only managed one record that peaked at #22 in the following three years. Her single, Make Yourself Comfortable, became her second top ten record in late 1954.

Sarah began 1955 by recording How Important Can It Be with Count Basie. The song was initially recorded by Joni James, but Joni was unhappy with the record and insisted on re-recording it with a different arrangement and some additional male background singers. After Sarah had recorded her version, Joni returned to the studio and made a second recording that MGM rush-released. Joni’s version reached the charts a week before Sarah’s single. When the dust settled, Joni peaked at #2 and earned a gold record, while Sarah’s version only reached #12.

Sarah’s next record competed with Dinah Shore. Whatever Lola Wants became one of the standout songs from a new play, Damn Yankees. That time, Sarah came out on top: her single reached #6 on the Hot 100, while Dinah’s version peaked at #12.

Sarah released three more singles that reached the top fifteen that year, after which the hits slowed down. She got her first gold record and her first Grammy nomination when she recorded the top ten single, Broken-Hearted Melody in 1959. Nat King Cole beat her out for that Grammy award.

Sarah continued performing until the late eighties and became one of the most celebrated female jazz singers.

She began chemotherapy for lung cancer and later passed away in 1990.


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