Great Women In Music (GWIM) is a New York City based, ongoing celebration of the many contributions women have made to music and the world. Since 2001 GWIM has annually presented a October month long Festival. Stellar show dates have featured such legendary artists as Phoebe Snow, Shirley Caesar, Gloria Lynne, Floetry, Ann Hampton Callaway, Regina Carter, and Melba Moore just to name a talented few.
On Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016 GWIM paid tribute to the “Divine One,” Sarah Vaughan. In 1942 singing “Body And Soul” Miss Vaughan won the Apollo Theater Armature Night, first prize was a week’s performance at the legendary theater where she would be the opening act for Ella Fitzgerald.
In 1943 she became a member of the Earl Hines’ Band as a pianist where she worked with crooner Billy Eckstine who was Hines’ featured singer at the time. When Eckstine left the band to form his own orchestra, he invited Sarah to come along, she accepted his invitation and one year later in 1944 she ventured out on her own, the rest as they say is history. It has been 25 years since the passing of one of the most unique voices of our time but her legacy will continue through her music and her United States “Forever Stamp”.
In 2015 the Postal Service announced that the Grammy-winning Jazz singer would be the latest addition to the agency’s music icon series. March 2016 saw an unveiling of Vaughan’s well-deserved tribute stamp in Newark NJ, Vaughan’s home town.
GWIM founder and executive producer Roz Nixon said, ‘We are now in our 16th season and we can’t think of any better way to make it “sweet” than by honoring one the finest artist of the 20th century.” The Harlem celebration of Sarah Vaughan and her stamp began at Harlem Besame Restaurant — a delightful uptown alfresco eatery that is dedicated to the sound of Jazz.
Besame’s overwhelmingly delicious menu is filled with Latin, Soul and Jamaican flavor! Senator Bill Perkins of the 30th senate district along with United States Postal Supervising Manager Tabitha A. Gales presided over the official GWIM Harlem presentation. Supervisor of Customer Services Tawana Huston also participated in the salute. Latrayer W. Sumter-Moreau, retail manager NY, worked with GWIM to secure a successful event.
It was called a “fabulous evening” by author Belinda James-Trotter and composer / arranger Norman Connors which featured Louise Murray from the musical “SS Nirvana” who portrays Sarah Vaughan. Singers Terri Davis and Rob Fulton hosted the evening and they were joined by singers from everywhere, in a talented list that included, Emilie Surtees, John Felder, Lil Phillips, Abiodun Oyewole (of the last poets) and Evelyn Horne. The audience also heard from accomplished musicians who stopped by to play the songs that made Sarah Vaughan famous.
Miss Jessie’s Hair Care and Black Opal Cosmetics and Skin Care supplied gift bags to all of the performers. Over the years, Great Women In Music has reigned supreme as a presenter of memorable dates and this season will be no exception with this Sassy, Sarah Vaughan night that won’t soon be forgotten!