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March 28, 2011 • Music Diary

Music Diary Songs of Note: Happy Birthday to Sassy Sarah Vaughan

Sunday would have been the 87th birthday of legendary singer Sarah Vaughan, who died in 1990. She is generally considered one of the great vocalists of the 20th century, and you can see that in the two videos I selected.

I was fortunate to see Sarah Vaughan at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1984, where she put on an amazing set that showcased not just her great voice but also her love of performing for and interacting with an audience. One of my favorite songs of hers was a great interpretation of Errol Garner’s Misty.

You can hear her doing the male part of Misty in the second video (not present in the first one), and that is something that was very memorable at Newport. She talked about the various male singing partners she had through the years, and how now she did that part herself – ‘damn good’, she remarked. Her range travels well down to that bass part, and then she started the next verse with a very cutesy ‘On my own …’ that always evokes a chuckle from the audience.

So let’s get to two wonderful versions of Misty from the great Sarah Vaughan.

Here is Misty from the late 1950’s:

And here is the same song soon before her death in 1990:

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