Singer Sarah Vaughan Eulogized As ‘Giant That Never Got Too Big’
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) _ Singer Sarah Vaughan, whose voice earned her the nickname ″Divine One,″ was eulogized at her hometown church as a ″giant that never got too big.″
Miss Vaughan traced her singing career to the small Baptist church where her mother coaxed her into joining the choir as a girl. On Mnday, Miss Vauhgan’s mother brought her back to Mount Zion Baptist Church for her funeral and burial.
″A Newark girl comes home, having gone full circle,″ said the Rev. Granville E. Seward, pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church, ″and what a circle that has been.″
Miss Vaughan died April 3 of lung cancer at her California home. She was 66.
She was remembered Monday as a person who never forgot her hometown of Newark or Arts High School, her alma mater.
″She was a giant that never got too big, a star we could reach out and touch,″ Newark Mayor Sharpe James said. ″For 50 years because of Sarah, every boy and girl who attended Arts High School can dream of doing the impossible.″
Miss Vaughan wanted her funeral held at Mount Zion, the neighborhood church where, as an 11-year-old, she joined the choir at the urging of her mother, Ada Vaughan.
″A voice born in heaven is now singing in heaven again, with an angelic choir,″ Seward said.
The service was simple, but filled with music, from gospel to Vaughan’s signature jazz and pop tunes, capped by ″Bring In the Clowns,″ one of her favorites.
About 500 people jammed into the sanctuary of the 118-year-old brownstone church for the private funeral.
Among the mourners were Vaughan’s 87-year-old mother and the singer’s daughter, Deborah Paris Vaughan, both of Hidden Hills, Calif.; singer Anita Baker; and jazzman Billy Eckstine, who is credited with launching Vaughan’s professional career.
Outside, 500 people stood behind police barricades or pressed against the brick and wrought-iron church fence as they listened to the service on a loud speaker.
Miss Vaughan’s body was carried from the church to a cemetery just outside Newark aboard a 102-year-old, horse-drawn hearse.
Miss Vaughan’s career read like a Hollywood script.
She began her music studies at 7. Her late father, Asbury, was a carpenter and a guitar player. Her mother sang in the church choir.
In 1942, on a dare from a friend, she entered an amateur night contest at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. Her rendition of ″Body and Soul″ won the competition and brought her to the attention of Eckstine and other jazz professionals and her career took off.
″She was a voice that was unique,″ Ralph Cooper, producer of the amateur night show where Miss Vaughan made her debut, told reporters Monday outside Mount Zion. ″From bebop right up to opera, she could do it all.″