Deputy Postmaster General Ronald Stroman
She was deemed “the Divine One” because she had a voice that music enthusiasts agreed was a gift from God. Now, Newark New Jersey jazz legend Sarah Vaughn has been immortalized with a postage stamp in her honor by the U.S. Postal Service.
In her hometown on Tuesday, appropriately in the Sarah Vaughn Concert Hall in the city’s Symphony Hall, the stamp was unveiled to an audience of Vaughn family, friends, fans and proud Newark residents. “As one of the most accomplished vocalists in American history, Sarah Vaughn was renowned for her artistic eloquence. Her dynamic vocal range, iconic vibrato, and innovative phrasing helped to transform jazz and popular music,” said Deputy Postmaster General Ronald Stroman, who dedicated the stamp.
Sarah Vaughn was born on March 27, 1924 in New Jersey’s largest city. Her father and mother were working class parents, a carpenter and laundress. Sarah exhibited musical talent early in life, taking piano and organ lessons, and honing her craft in church. Following an urge to sing, she performed in her church choir and revealed a three-octave range and a distinctive style of accentuating every syllable of a lyric. Sarah was a teenager when she hit the stage of Harlem’s famed Apollo Theater in 1942 and caught the attention of the legendary singer Billy Eckstine, who recommended her to his employer, Earl “Fatha” Hines. In short time Vaughn would launch a solo career and the voice many regarded as an ‘instrument’ would become world renown.
Vaughn recorded for the Columbia and Mercury labels, and belted out jazz and pop hits. Her hits in the 1950s included “Whatever Lola Wants,” “Make Yourself Comfortable” and “Broken-Hearted Melody.” It was popular television host Dave Garroway who dubbed Vaughn “the Divine One.” Almost 50 years after making her professional debut, Sarah Vaughan died on April 3, 1990. She is beloved by fans and professional musicians alike, including Dianne Reeves, Anita Baker and Joni Mitchell. She remains a much revered figure in the jazz world and her hometown of Newark New Jersey.
The stamp event was co-sponsored by Newark Celebration 350, which commemorates the city’s rich history by celebrating the talents of its citizenry.
The stamp is the seventh in the Postal Service’s Music Icons series, which includes Lydia Mendoza, Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Elvis Presley. Vaughan fans are asked to share this news using the hashtags #Musicicons and #SarahVaughanForever.
Stroman was joined at the stamp dedication by Grammy Award-winning jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves and Tony Award-winning actress and singer Melba Moore. The ceremony featured a proclamation from Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and a video tribute to Vaughan that included remarks by legendary singer Tony Bennett. There were musical performances by Moore, vocalist Carrie Jackson, the Mount Zion Baptist Church Choir, and the NJPAC Jazz for Teens Ensemble with Jazzmeia Horn. WGBO radio host Rhonda Hamilton served as emcee.
“The Postal Service is proud to honor Sarah Vaughan,” Stroman said. “Let this stamp serve as a lasting tribute to her legacy.”
The stamp features an oil painting of Vaughan in performance based on a photograph shot in 1955 by Hugh Bell. The stamp pane is designed to resemble a vintage 45 rpm record sleeve. One side of the pane includes the stamps and a brief text about Vaughan's career with the image of a sliver of a record seeming to peek out of the top of the sleeve. A larger version of the art featured on the stamp, the logo for the Music Icons series, and a list of some of Vaughan's most popular songs appear on the reverse side. Art director Ethel Kessler designed the stamp and the stamp pane with art created by Bart Forbes.
Customers may purchase the Sarah Vaughan Forever stamp at usps.com/stamps, at the Postal Store usps.com/shop, by calling 800-STAMP24 (800-782-6724800 782-6724) and at Post Offices nationwide. A variety of stamps and collectibles also is available at ebay.com/stamps.