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Dame Shirley Bassey, Intl Entertainer

Updated on November 30, 2012
A mature Dame Shirley Bassey
A mature Dame Shirley Bassey | Source

I grew up listening to my mother's music floating throughout our apartment or her house. I fell in love with all kinds of singers because my mother was an avid artistic and creative person although that was not how she put the food on the table.

But because of her theatrical love my brother and i were exposed to all kinds of entertainers and summer activities that involved all kinds of people.

She always had us in stitches but mostly in the summer, when it was up to her to find entertaining ways to keep two active children from tearing her house apart.

Shirley Bassey was one of those big mouth singers / entertainers that my mother introduced me to and no matter what any one says Dame Shirley Bassey has never disappointed.

She's one of those class acts that has no comparison - period.

What i have read and heard of Dame Shirley Bassey, other than being quieted in the school choir she never received lessons on how to sing or how to entertain, but i know from experience that she has transitioned, becoming better and better as she's matured, in every way!

Mostly Known songs...

She is the only singer that has sung three (3) of the best James Bond film's theme songs. Her timeless belting voice made them instant classics. Which is quite fascinating since she made each one of them stand out on their own.

She sang the theme songs for Goldfinger, Diamonds are Forever and Moonraker. Three of the best Bond films ever made and that is coming from a classic Bond fan.

Just recently i discovered she sang the alternate theme song for Quantum of Solace. And personally, like others, i prefer hers to that other one. It just didn't suit!!! Her version did...

Dame Shirley has one of the most distinctive, almost non British voices, when she sings that i have ever heard.

But beyond the fact that she is a singer, for me, she is also a performer of the highest caliber. She is not overt, although she can be but you can tell that as an entertainer she uses every nuance to convey to the listener and on looker what the music is saying to her.

Dame Shirley is a Welsh singer, that's what is listed on her biography but to me she belongs to the world. Starting her career in 1953, she sings Pop, Traditional Pop, and Adult contemporary songs that are recognizable by anyone whose ever heard her sing.

Her birth place is Tiger Bay, Cardiff Wales, she was born in 1937 - which in 2012 makes her 75 years of age on January 8, of this year (2012) , the 6th or 7th and last child of her English mother, Eliza Bassey.

Dame Shirley's ethnicity is considered black, because of her Nigerian father, a seaman and Welsh because of her white, English or Welsh mother from Yorkshire.

Shirley grew up in Splott, attending primary school there, without her father.

Dame Shirley makes her home in Monte Carlo, Monaco. Like other diva's who have grown to love the warmer parts of Europe and seem to be embraced more by them.

Becoming a Dame

In 1999, Shirley Bassey became a Dame, one of the highest awards from Britain's monarchy. A 'Dame' is the female equivalent to the rank of a Knight. It is the honour of Knighthood for a woman, recognized as 'damehood' on documents.

The (her majesty) H. M. Elizabeth II, on New Year's eve bestowed on Ms. Bassey the Dame Commander of the British Empire award, for her obvious talents and successes.

When she began singing as a girl Shirley received no encouragement she is quoted to have been told to "shut up". At school she was told to, "keep it down."

What she's known for other than Bond's theme music - Big Spender.

I remember the first time i heard Big Spender, my mother and her summer theatre group were rehearsing for their Summer Madness production. All funny but all business and all jokes aside deadly serious as they crafted their skits and musical reviews.

Each one of those talented people could have gone far in the entertainment business if any of them were willing to pack their bags, give up their Bahamaland and would have traveled to the US for a big break.

There would be a whole lot more entertainers that rival Sidney Poitier from the Bahamas!

But they refused, remaining home to influence a country and generations to come with their artistic craftsmanship.

Interesting facts or fiction,

  • born above a brothel
  • sang at 14, evenings and weekends
  • pregnant at 16
  • 1953 did a musical tour, hated show biz
  • married twice, first to K. Hume, second S. Novak
  • had two daughters
  • she's in the Guiness book of records
  • lives in Monaco
  • second and youngest daughter died tragically
  • mother accused of bigamy
  • father deported for a crime, involving Eliza
  • first hit, UK's British charts # 8, The Banana Boat - 1957

Just some highlights.

Dame Shirley Bassey is a class act and is still going strong into her 70's performing her hits and wooing audiences all over the world.

She's absolutely amazing!!!. Big Mouth go Dame!


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