... she died on April 3, 1990 when she was 66 years-old.
Sarah Lois Vaughan was born in Newark, New Jersey. Her father, Asbury "Rat Fool" Vaughan, was a carpenter by trade and played guitar and piano. Her mother, Ada, sang in the church choir. Sarah began piano lessons at the age of seven, sang in the church choir and occasionally played piano for rehearsals and services.
Vaughan developed an early love for popular music from listening to records and the radio. In the 1930s, Newark had a very active live music scene and Vaughan frequently saw local and touring bands. By her mid-teens, Vaughan began venturing into Newark's night clubs and performing as a pianist and, occasionally, singer, most notably at the Piccadilly Club and the Newark Airport USO.
Vaughan transferred to Newark Arts High School, which opened in 1931 as the first arts "magnet" high school in the U.S. Vaughan dropped out of high school during her junior year to concentrate more fully on music. Around this time, Vaughan and her friends also began venturing across the Hudson River into New York City to hear big bands at the Apollo Theater in Harlem.
Vaughan was frequently accompanied by a friend, Doris Robinson, on her trips into New York City. Sometime in the fall of 1942 (when Sarah was 18 years old), Vaughan suggested that Robinson enter the Apollo Amateur Night contest. Vaughan played piano accompaniment for Robinson, who won second prize. Vaughan later decided to go back and compete herself as a singer. Vaughan sang "Body and Soul" and won. The prize, was US$10 and the promise of a week's engagement at the Apollo. In the spring of 1943 she returned to the Apollo and opened for Ella Fitzgerald.