This Women’s History Month, We Celebrate the Sarah Vaughan Centennial

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This Women’s History Month, We Celebrate the Sarah Vaughan Centennial

March is Women's History Month, and that’s special enough; it only comes once-a-year. But this year’s Women’s History Month is extraordinary — because it marks 100 years since the birth of one of jazz’s foundational artists, the one they called Sassy, the Divine One or, simply, “Sarah.” 


Spanning five decades, each phase of Sarah Vaughan’s career was as distinct and remarkable as those 20th century decades themselves. 

As a vocalist, Vaughan did nearly everything: she originated the role of the bebop vocalist, became a pop star with Columbia Records, reinvented herself during the rise of rock and roll, and finished her career as a queen of bossa nova and a literal diva in the operatic sense, performing jazz in places that had historically excluded it. In symphony halls, backed by full orchestras led by star conductors like Michael Tilson Thomas, Vaughan, with her four-octave range, was the show. 

Sarah Vaughan and her audience, early 1950s. Joe Schwartz photo archive.

Along with Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole, Sarah desegregated the airwaves and forced mainstream America to rethink what a black female musician was capable of. And, the whole time, all she really wanted to do was sing.

Which, of course, she did better and more of than most anyone, maintaining a grueling schedule throughout her 47 years in music. Over the next four weeks, we’ll bring you everything you’ve ever heard from Sarah’s career and lots you haven’t. Whether it’s on-the-air, on the web, or in person — we’ll cover every phase, every landmark recording, and, as is our custom, share plenty of rarities. All right here, all March long, on KSDS Jazz 88.3 FM in San Diego and, around the world, at and the KSDS mobile app.

On Mar. 20, we welcome vocalist Rose Mallett and her “Songs of Sarah” program to the Saville Theatre for a maximally Sassy Jazz Live.

Join us as we toast Sassy’s 100th and boast of her indelible impact every weekday this month.

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