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“The early years of Sarah Vaughan’s career coincided with the waning of the swing era, and this biography shows how the change both fueled and limited her career.” (The New Yorker)

“Queen of Bebop explores the hard choices of many a jazz singer when rock ‘n roll began stealing audience focus, relying on a variety of performers to shed light on Vaughan’s mindset. A welcome and well-researched accounting of Vaughan’s life story.” (NPR.org)

“Necessary and exciting. . . . Queen of Bebop models a way of understanding the lives and artistry of jazz musicians — one that establishes their importance and centrality in creating the best that America has offered the world.” (Washington Post)

“Elaine Hayes’ vivid portrait of Sarah Vaughan’s life, times, and indelible musical legacy reveals why she was indeed called The Divine One.” (New York Journal of Books)

“A lively and moving portrait of the passionate and tenacious jazz singer. Hayes gracefully narrates Vaughan’s life… a detailed look at a fearless singer who constantly moved into new musical territories and left a legacy for younger musicians.” (Publishers Weekly, Starred Review)

Queen of Bebop brilliantly chronicles the life of jazz singer Sarah Vaughan, one of the most influential and innovative musicians of the twentieth century and a pioneer of women’s and civil rights.


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Hear Elaine talk about Queen of Bebop here and here.

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“Hayes’ interviews with musicians, meticulous jazz history, incisive coverage of the ridiculous publicity campaigns the performer endured, and frank coverage of Vaughan’s emotionally and financially disastrous marriages and her repeated rising from the ashes cohere in a deeply illuminating and unforgettable biography of a true American master.” (Booklist, Starred Review)

“an informative, meticulously researched biography. . . . a fine homage.” (emissourian.com)

“Inspiring. . . . traces Vaughan’s life and its intersection of music with race and gender.” (Library Journal)

“You may think you know Sarah Vaughan, but this book reveals how much you don’t. Queen of Bebop is a much-needed addition to music scholarship.” (Tammy Kernodle, author of Soul on Soul: The Life and Music of Mary Lou Williams)

“A richly contextualized and beautifully researched listening guide for the career of Sarah Vaughan. In respectfully treating Vaughan’s unflagging artistry, drive, and the social justice stakes involved in working within and against the new kinds of hit-making strategies and technologies, Hayes’ treatment lifts us beyond the bop/pop divide.” (Sherrie Tucker, author of Dance Floor Democracy)

“With an eye for detail and an ear for nuance, Elaine M. Hayes takes us on Vaughan’s journey from shy church girl to the sassy, masterful “musician’s singer” she became. This book is a must read for fans and scholars of the ‘Divine One’s’ singular contribution to American music.” (Guthrie P. Ramsey, author of The Amazing Bud Powell: Black Genius, Jazz History and the Challenge of Bebop and African American Music)

“Hayes brings to life the story of one of America’s most musically gifted, creative, intelligent, and productive women. An enticing and essential read for anyone drawn to the sounds of the inimitable Sarah Vaughan and what it meant to be strong, talented, beautiful, and black in 20th century America.” (Carol Ann Muller, author of Musical Echoes: South African Women Thinking in Jazz)