one of the most popular female vocalists in Britain during the last half of the 20th century Dame Shirley Bassey, DBE was born on this day 8th January in 1937). She found fame in the late 1950s and is best known for recording the theme songs to the James Bond films Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, and Moonraker and is a UNESCO Artist for Peace. She attended Moorland Road School where her strong voice. was noticed by teachers and students alike She also sung in the school choir. After leaving Splott Secondary Modern School at the age of 14, 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. She next took up a professional engagement in Hot from Harlem, which ran until 1954. In 1955, a chance recommendation of her to Michael Sullivan, a booking agent, put her firmly on course for her destined career. He saw talent in Bassey, and decided he would make her a star. She toured various theatres until Jack Hylton put her firmly on the road to stardom. She starred in in Al Read’s Such Is Life at the Adelphi Theatre in London’s West End. During the show’s run she was offered a recording deal & her first single was “Burn My Candle”/“Stormy Weather”, and was banned by the BBC. in 1957, she had her first hit with “The Banana Boat Song” (DAAAAY OH!) which was followed by “If I Had a Needle and Thread” b/w “Tonight My Heart She Is Crying”. In 1958 she released “As I Love You”, “Hands Across the Sea” and “Kiss Me, Honey Honey, Kiss Me”. During the 1960’s she released “As Long As He Needs Me” from Lionel Bart’s Oliver! In 1962 she released the album produced the album Let’s Face the Music and the singles “What Now My Love”, “Reach for the Stars”/”Climb Ev’ry Mountain”, “I’ll Get By”, “I (Who Have Nothing)”. She also sang at a Washington gala celebrating the end of President Kennedy’s second year in office. In 1965, Bassey released the title song of the James Bond film, Goldfinger. In 1967 she released “Big Spender“.In 1968, she performed “La vita” at the Sanremo Festival
In 1970 Bassey released the album Something, (The single of the same name was more successful in the UK charts than the original Beatles recording – the only artist to have achieved this) plus the singles “For All We Know”and “Never Never Never”. She also released the albums Something Else, And I Love You So, , I Capricorn, Never Never Never, Good, Bad but Beautiful, Love, Life and Feelings, You Take My Heart Away and Yesterdays. Two compilations, The Shirley Bassey Singles Album (1975) and 25th Anniversary Album (1978) were also released. Between 1970 and 1979, Bassey had 18 hit albums in the UK Albums Chart.In 1973, her sold-out concerts at New York’s Carnegie Hall were recorded and released as a two-LP set, Shirley Bassey: Live at Carnegie Hall. This album and the majority of her recordings from this period have been re-mastered and released on CD by EMI and BGO Records. In 1971, she recorded the theme song for the James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever, which also featured as part of Sydney’s 2007 New Year’s celebration.In 1976 & 1979 Bassey starred in the Shirley Bassey Show which featured guests including Neil Diamond, Michel Legrand, The Three Degrees and Dusty”. in 1979 Bassey sung her third title theme for the Bond films, Moonraker. Throughout most of the 1980s, Bassey focused on charitable work and performing occasional concert tours throughout Europe, Australia, and the United States. In 1982 Bassey recorded an album entitled All by Myself and made a TV special for Thames Television called A Special Lady with guest Robert Goulet.In 1986, she released a single and video to support the London Tourist Board, “There’s No Place Like London”and in 1987 she recorded an album of James Bond themes, The Bond Collection. She also provided vocals for Swiss artists Yello on “The Rhythm Divine” and her 1991 album Keep the Music Playing displayed a grand, operatic pop style. In 1994 EMI released the five-CD box set Bassey – The EMI/UA Years 1959 – 1979.
In 1996, Bassey collaborated with Chris Rea in the film La Passione, appearing in the film as herself and releasing the single “‘Disco’ La Passione”, the remix proving a major club hit throughout Europe. In 1995 Bassey colaborated with The Propellorheads and released “History Repeating“. Bassey celebrated her 60th birthday in 1997 with two open-air concerts, at Castle Howard and Althorp Park, and another TV special, then in 1998 Bassey performed for a benefit at an open air concert close to the Sphinx and the Great Pyramid in Egypt. Bassey was one of three central figures In the 1998 film Little Voice, along with Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland. The following year, she performed the official song for the rugby World Cup, “World in Union”, with Bryn Terfel at the opening ceremony at The Millennium Stadium, Cardiff and also contributed two more songs to the official album Land of My Fathers. In 2001, Bassey was principal artiste at the Duke of Edinburgh’s 80th Birthday celebration. On 3 June 2002 Shirley Bassey was one of a prestigious line up of artists including Elton John, Paul McCartney, Queen, The Corrs, Annie Lennox, Eric Clapton, Tony Bennett, Cliff Richard, Joe Cocker, Rod Stewart, Ricky Martin, Phil Collins and Tom Jones who performed at the Queen’s 50th Jubilee Party at Buckingham Palace. A gala charity auction of her stage costumes was also held at Christie’s, called Dame Shirley Bassey: 50 Years of Glittering Gowns, it raised £250,000 (US$500,000) for the Dame Shirley Bassey Scholarship at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and the Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital Appeal. Bassey also topped the bill at the 2005 Royal Variety Performance, introducing her new song “The Living Tree”. Bassey also performed at five arenas around the UK culminating at Wembley & also performed a concert in front of 10,000 people at the Bryn Terfel Faenol Festival in North Wales. Bassey performed a 45 minute set at the 2007 Glastonbury Festival wearing a pink Julien Macdonald dress, and customised Wellington boots and also released A new album, Get the Party Started. Bassey performed “Big Spender” with Elton John at his annual White Tie and Tiara Ball to raise money for The Elton John AIDS Foundation. In 2007, Bassey performed in Fashion Rocks in aid of The Prince’s Trust at the Royal Albert Hall.
Throughout her long and distinguished carreer Dame Shirley Bassey has won many awards for her music. In 1974 she was voted Best Female Entertainer by the American Guild of Variety Artists. In 1976 she won the EMI Award for twenty years as a recording artist. In 1977 she won a BRIT Award for being Best British Female Solo Artist in the previous 25 years. In 1977 she garnered a Golden Rose of Montreux nomination. In 1991 a plaque unveiled in Rotterdam’s Walk of Fame, Star Boulevard, Commemorating Dame Shirley Bassey. In 1993 Bassey was awarded a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the New Years honours List and in 1995 she won the Variety Club of Great Britain’s award for Showbusiness Personality of the Year, In 1997 she recieved a Grammy nomination for the The Birthday Concert (recorded live at Althorp Park) and in 1998 she was also given an award for the Longest run by a solo artist at th Royal Festival Hall, London. on 31 December 1999 . Bassey was created a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) by Queen Elizabeth II “For services to entertainment” and was invited to perform in 2002 at the Party at the Palace, a public celebration of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. She was awarded France’s top honour, the Legion d’Honneur.She is also the Most Successful British Female Singer according to the Guinness Book of Records. She was given an award for Outstanding Contribution to Music at the National Music Awards, UK and in 2003 she was given a Lifetime Achievement Award (inaugural award) – Western Mail Welsh Woman of the Year. in that same yearShe also became UNESCO’s Artist for Peace and in 2005 a Plaque was unveiled on the Avenue of Stars in London and In 2008 the song “Goldfinger”was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.