On March 27, 1924, a beautiful voice was born in Newark, New Jersey. Sarah Lois Vaughn came into this world to sing. Her parents were both amateur musicians. She learned to play the piano and the organ at age seven. Vaughn spent her childhood singing in the choir at the Mt. Zion Baptist Church. In 1943, she entered a contest at the Apollo Theater in the Harlem section of New York City. She won this contest and started on her way to a professional career.
Earl Hines hired Vaughn after she won the contest. She worked with his orchestra as a singer and second pianist. In 1944, she joined Billy Eckstine's band. He was a singer who performed with Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. Vaughn was now surrounded by famous jazz musicians. What made Vaughn's singing style special was her sound. She "always wanted to imitate the horns." She loved the sounds of instruments, and they influenced her singing. In 1945, she recorded the song Lover Man with Gillespie and Parker. She also recorded the song A Night in Tunisia under the title Interlude in 1944. This was one of Gillespie's songs.
Vaughn moved on to other bands in the 1940s. She started singing with John Kirby, and she appeared in television variety shows. She did not stay with Kirby for long. She started to perform as a solo act. She was starting to become more famous. Vaughn began touring the United States and Europe during the 1950s. She received a record contract with Mercury Record Corporation and EmArcy in 1953. EmArcy was Mercury's jazz record label.