In the latter half of the 1950s Sarah Vaughan followed a schedule of almost non-stop touring, with many famous jazz musicians. She was featured at the first Newport Jazz Festival in the summer of 1954 and starred in subsequent editions of that festival at Newport and in New York City for the remainder of her life. In the fall of 1954, she performed at Carnegie Hall with the Count Basie Orchestra on a bill that also included Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, Lester Young and the Modern Jazz Quartet. That fall, she again toured Europe successfully before embarking on a "Big Show" U.S. tour, a grueling succession of start-studded one-nighters that included Count Basie, George Shearing, Erroll Garner and Jimmy Rushing. At the 1955 New York Jazz Festival on Randalls Island, Vaughan shared the bill with the Dave Brubeck quartet, Horace Silver, Jimmy Smith, and the Johnny Richards Orchestra
Although the professional relationship between Vaughan and Treadwell was quite successful through the 1950s, their personal relationship finally reached a breaking point and she filed for a divorce in 1958. Vaughan had entirely delegated financial matters to Treadwell, and despite significant income figures reported through the 1950s, at the settlement Treadwell said that only $16,000 remained. The couple evenly divided the amount and their personal assets, terminating their business relationship.
In 1958, Vaughan was earning a yearly income of $230,000. In July of the following year, she scored her first million-selling hit, “Broken Hearted Melody,” with the Ray Ellis Orchestra. A hit with both black and white audiences, “Broken Hearted Melody,” which was nominated for a Grammy Award, reached number five on the pop R&B charts.
When Vaughan's contract with Mercury ended in the fall of 1959, she signed with Roulette Records and became, over the next few years, one the label's biggest stars. Her 1960 sessions for Roulette included “The Divine One,” arranged by Jimmy Jones and a session with Count Basie Band featuring such talents as trumpeters Thad Jones and Joe Newman and saxophonists Frank Foster and Billy Mitchell. Featured in duet numbers with singer Joe Williams, the Basie Band session produced the sides, “If I Were a Bell” and “Teach Me Tonight.”
Sarah Lois Vaughan was an American jazz singer, described by Scott Yanow as having "one of the most wondrous voices of the 20th century."
Nicknamed "Sailor" (for her salty speech), "Sassy" and "The Divine One", Sarah Vaughan was a Grammy Award winner. The National Endowment for the Arts bestowed upon her its "highest honor in jazz", the NEA Jazz Masters Award, in 1989.