2007 is proving to be an exciting year for Dame Shirley Bassey. The legendary Welsh diva celebrated her 70th birthday in January and with her recent hit single, The Living Tree, became the first artist to have a career of chart hits spanning more than 50 years. Following a showstopping performance at the Glastonbury Festival, her brand new album, Get The Party Started, flew into the top ten UK Album Chart at number 6, giving the Dame her highest charting album in more than 30 years! Quite a year for the Dame of all Dame’s, the Diva of all Diva’s – Dame Shirley Bassey!
From humble beginnings as the youngest of seven children in a deprived area of Cardiff, the teenage Shirley Bassey worked at a local factory and earned extra money singing at workings men’s clubs. It was here that her incredible talent was discovered and at the age of 16 she signed her first professional contract. By 18 she was singing in theatres across the UK and was soon snapped up by Philips Records.
Her first single, Burn My Candle, was banned by the BBC due to its suggestive lyrics, but there was no stopping Shirley as she quickly rose to the top of the charts, scoring a string of UK hits including her first top ten singles, Banana Boat Song (1957) and Kiss Me Honey Honey (1958) and her first number one, As I Love You (1959).
Chart success continued into the sixties following a move to the Columbia label. Hits included As Long As He Needs Me (1960), Reach For The Stars/Climb Every Mountain (1961), What Now My Love (1962) and I Who Have Nothing (1963).
In 1964 she recorded the title song to the James Bond film Goldfinger, a song that so perfectly matched her powerful, dramatic voice and glamorous image that it quickly became her trademark. Goldfinger was a big hit and made her a household name across the world at the height of Beatlemania. She later went on to record Diamonds Are Forever (1971) and Moonraker (1979), making her the only singer ever to record more than one Bond theme and forever associating her with 007.
In the mid-sixties Shirley signed to United Artists, recording enduring favourites Big Spender (1967) and This Is My Life (La Vita) (1968) and after a period in tax exile in the late sixties made a spectacular comeback with her version of George Harrison’s Something (1970). The single matched The Beatles’ number four chart position and the huge success of the Something album paved the way for a string of international bestselling albums for United Artists that lasted until the end of the decade.
Later in the seventies she fronted her own popular primetime BBC TV series, dazzling TV audiences with her trademark glamorous outfits and singing on location at some of the world's most interesting and exotic places. This series firmly cemented her status as the ultimate big spending, jet-setting icon. In 1977 she received the Brit Award for Best Female Solo Singer in the last 50 years.
She announced her semi-retirement in 1980 but has continued to record successful albums and TV specials since then and toured extensively in the eighties and nineties. During this time she also recorded some notable collaborations: The Rhythm Divine with Swiss group Yello (1987), La Passione with Chris Rea (1996) and number one dance track History Repeating with The Propellerheads (1997).
In 1993 she was awarded the CBE, and in 2000 became a Dame. In 1999 she recorded World In Union, the official song of the Rugby World Cup, with Bryn Terfel, and performed at the opening ceremony at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium. In 2002 she performed at the Party at the Palace as part of The Queen’s Golden Jubilee celebrations.
In 2003 she celebrated 50 years in Showbusiness and raised £250,000 by auctioning off fifty of her famous stage gowns at Christies with proceeds going to the Noah's Ark Children's Hospital Appeal and the Dame Shirley Bassey Scholarship at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.
Summer 2006 saw the birth of what was to become the Get the Party Started album project, when singer-songwriting partners Catherine Feeney and Nikki Lamborn approached the Dame about the possibility of recording The Living Tree. The duo had recorded their version of the song, but convinced Dame Shirley it was right for her during a trip to Monte Carlo (where the legendary singer now lives). A chance encounter with the Dame in the gym of a 5 star hotel in the city led to Dame Shirley Bassey hearing and falling in love with the song and agreeing to record it.
In December 2006, the Dame was featured in Marks & Spencer’s national Christmas TV advertising campaign performing Pink’s Get The Party Started.
Following their successful collaboration with the Living Tree single, March 2007 saw the Dame back in the studio with Catherine and Nikki to record her own incredible new version of the Pink song along with brand new and remixed versions of some of her most well known songs including Big Spender and I Who Have Nothing as well as classic interpretations of some unexpected contemporary songs, including I Will Survive, You Only Live Twice and Hello. Together this makes up Get The Party Started, Dame Shirley Bassey’s first new full album in nearly 10 years that is now set for a major international release on Lock Stock and Barrel Records/Universal Music.