Remarkable people: Dame Shirley Bassey

The wonderful, irrepressible DSB – Dame Shirley Bassey

This wonderful lady was born in 1937 and, thus, next January 8th she turns 73.  So for this author, born in 1944, DSB has been in the background of my life for ever, and for millions of others.  There is so much written about her that the only purpose of this Post is try and bring her to the attention to those that may not know of her so well.

I only have to think of the soundtrack to the film Goldfinger to instantly hear Shirley Bassey’s voice loud and clear in my mind.  Unforgettable, stunning, thrilling and still capable of raising the hairs on my skin now over 40 years since the track was recorded.  Just listen to this voice:

Wikipedia has a great entry on Shirley Bassey from which we learn:

Shirley Bassey was born to Henry Bassey and his wife Eliza Jane (née Metcalfe), their seventh and last child, in Tiger Bay, Cardiff, Wales.[2] Of paternal Nigerian and maternal English heritage,[5][6] Bassey has always refered to her nationality as being Welsh. She grew up in the working-class dockside district of Splott. After leaving Moorland School at the age of fifteen, Bassey first found employment packing at a local factory while singing in local public houses and clubs in the evenings and weekends. In 1953, she signed her first professional contract, to sing in a touring variety show Memories of Jolson, a musical based on the life of Al Jolson.

So this Welsh girl, one of 7 kids, born of mixed parentage, two years before the start of World War 2,  in a very poor and rough part of a Welsh port managed to become one of the leading singers of the world and is still going strong.  That makes her without any hesitation a most remarkable person.

There are two great Blogs on Dame Shirley Bassey, here and here.  The former is the official Blog but the latter, thank goodness, has the links to a wonderful interview on the BBC as part of their Imagine series.

If you want to see how interesting this lovely woman is, then watch that Imagine interview.  The first part is below: you can watch the rest of the six parts, either by searching on YouTube or by going here.

By Paul Handover

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