Saluting Sarah Vaughan

“Sarah Vaughan could do anything with her voice,” said vocalist Lucy Wijnands. “The way she sang a ballad was how I wanted to sing a ballad. She had so much class and personality in her singing, and nobody else sounded quite like her.”

Vaughan, who passed away on April 4, 1990, at the age of 66, would have turned 100 on March 27. On Sunday, March 3, Wijnands (photo above) will celebrate Vaughan’s centennial birthday at the New Jersey Jazz Society’s Jersey Jazz LIVE! concert at the Madison (NJ) Community Arts Center.

“I will definitely be singing one of my favorites, ‘Baubles Bangles and Beads’,” Wijnands said, adding that, “I will also be singing ‘Tenderly’, as she was the first person to record this song, and she sang it beautifully.” Vaughan’s legacy is something Wijnands is “very honored to pay homage to. This will be my second tribute concert to her, as I just finished one in Oslo (Norway) as well.” (She celebrated Vaughan’s centennial in early February at Oslo’s Club Gustav jazz club).

In 2021, Wijnands won the Blues Alley Jazz Society’s Ella Fitzgerald Vocal Competition, singing three Johnny Mercer songs — “Too Marvelous For Words”, “Laura”, and “Dearly Beloved”. She was also Jersey Jazz Magazine’s Rising Star in June 2021. “Just like Ella,” Wijnands said, “Sarah is hugely influential to me. I could listen to her all the time. I love Ella and Sarah equally because they’re both killer singers.”

Orginally from Kansas City, the 26-year-old Wijnands graduated in 2020 from the Conservatory of Music at SUNY Purchase. She sang at NJJS’ 50th Anniversary concert in October 2022. Her father, Bram Wijnands, is a stride pianist, and he will be accompanying her at the March 3rd concert. “I’m so excited having my Dad with me,” she said. “I think Sarah would have loved his playing because he is so authentic to that time period. He’s also very inspired by Errol Garner, whom I know she loved also.”

Wijnands will be preceded by a Rising Star opening act featuring a quintet led by guitarist Sally Shupe of Maplewood. A senior at Columbia High School, Shupe (photo below) was the guitarist in the All-State Jazz Ensemble that performed at the TD James Moody Jazz Festival last November at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. She plans to study jazz at Montclair State’s John J. Cali School of Music in the fall. The other members of her quintet are: drummer Beckett Diehl, a freshman at William Paterson University; tenor saxophonist Abhik Mojumdar, a senior at South Brunswick High School; pianist Thomas Dinh, a sophomore at Robbinsville High School; and bassist Jeff Andolaro, a senior at Shawnee High School. Mojumdar, Dinh, and Andolaro were also members of the All-State Jazz Ensemble.

The Madison Community Arts Center is located at 10 Kings Road in Madison, NJ. The Jersey Jazz LIVE! concerts begin at 3 p.m. Admission will be $10 for NJJS members and $15 for non-members. Student admission is $5 with valid ID. There will be light refreshments for purchase. To order tickets in advance, log onto https://madisonarts.ticketleap.com/jersey-jazz-live–03-03-24/

Funding for Jersey Jazz Live! has been made possible, in part, by funds from Morris Arts through the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency of The National Endowment for the Arts. This program is also proudly supported by a grant from The Summit Foundation

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The New Jersey Jazz Society (NJJS) is a non-profit organization of business and professional people, musicians, teachers, students and listeners working together for the purpose of advancing jazz music.