The Welsh are famous for their beautiful singing voices. Wales has been the birthplace of many great singers. Some have been members of choirs.
Of course there has only ever been, or will only ever be, one Dame Shirley Bassey.
Shirley Bassey was born in Tiger Bay, Cardiff, Wales on January 8, 1937. This means that Our Shirl celebrates her 80th birthday in 2017.
Sunday it is Happy Birthday Our Shirl!
Amazing when you look at recent images and performances. She is as glamorous as ever and still has the same great singing voice.
Dame Shirley, as she has been since 1999, found fame in the late 1950s and has become something of a legend.
Shirley was the seventh and last child of Henry and Eliza Bassey. As a mixed race child, growing up in the UK, in the 1940s and 1950s, life would have been hard. Shirley spent her early years in a working class district of Cardiff. After singing in the choir whilst at school she took a packing job at a local factory, leaving school at the age of fifteen.
Shirley's nights and weekends were spent singing in local pubs and clubs. By 1953 she had secured her first proper musical work. After various appearances in two different shows her music career was halted. Shirley was pregnant aged just 16.
Within a couple of years though her talent was spotted again and this time her music career really took off.
Various hit records were to follow and there was a time when Shirley was rarely away from British television screens. Variety shows, such as Sunday Night at the London Palladium, were very popular and Shirley was often the top of the bill act.
As a child I would watch my Dad as he was entertained by Shirley's performances. Dad loved her. Our Shirl he would call her. She was a very good looking woman, with a powerful voice and her own individual style; she was often dressed in long glitzy gowns when she performed and threw her arms around dramatically as she sang.
She was and is a real Diva.
Shirley appeared on shows such as Morecambe and Wise in the UK and was not afraid to be seen in a funny light. In one performance on the Morecambe and Wise show Shirley wore a dazzling gown but ended up wearing hob nail boots. How did she keep a straight face?
Current fashions, in TV entertainment, mean that there are seldom opportunities for artists such as Dame Shirley to perform on TV. However we see and hear her now and then. She has been classed as semi-retired since the late 80s but still performs and has a large fan base.
Shirley was also the voice behind so many great Bond film soundtracks such as:-
These days Shirley lives in Monte Carlo a far cry from her early days in Tiger Bay, Wales but she has earned her life of luxury.