by: Paulanne Simmons




When one diva celebrates another, you know it’s going to be a great evening. And so it was at 54 Below when Ann Hampton Callaway shared The Sarah Vaughan Project with a very appreciative audience.

A list of songs associated with Vaughan includes “Like Someone In Love,” “Misty,” “There Will Never Be Another You,” “Chelsea Bridge,” “Night in Tunisia,” “Send in the Clowns,” and “Like A Lover.” These are some of the very songs that shine most brightly in the American Songbook.

Callaway’s voice and delivery are perfectly suited to these sultry, intimate songs. She also had the incredible Ted Rosenthal at the piano.

For those who might not be familiar with Vaughn’s life, Callaway traced her rise to fame from singing in a Baptist church choir in Newark, to her first big break opening for Ella Fitzgerald at the Apollo, to her last performance at the Blue Note (which Callaway attended).

Like all divas, Callaway knows how to turn a cabaret into her living room. She loses no opportunity to tease and charm her audience into submission. A cell phone going off at the wrong time does the job just fine.

Not least of Callaway’s talents is her ability to sing, and sing well, in a substantial range, which makes her low notes as true as her high ones. As if she needed to prove this, she ended the show with a particularly challenging pop standard, “Poor Butterfly,” which was inspired by Puccini’s Madame Butterfly and includes a portion of the famous aria “Un bel di.”

Vaughan’s singing moved radio host Dave Garroway to name her “The Divine One.” Any celebration of Vaughan requires a certain degree of inspired genius. This is something Ann Hampton Callaway certainly has in abundance.

54 Below, 254 West 54 St. (Cellar) NYC  (646) 476-3551