Dame Shirley Bassey

Dame Shirley Bassey

Born: 8th January 1937

Birth Place: United Kingdom

Known for: Singer

Bassey became the first Welsh person to gain a no.1 single

Bassey was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE)

In 1977, she received a Brit Award for Best British Female Solo Artist in the previous 25 years

I think men are afraid to be with a successful woman, because we are terribly strong, we know what we want and we are not fragile enough.

Dame Shirley Bassey

Life story

Early Life

Shirley Veronica Bassey was the sixth and youngest child of a Nigerian father and a British mother. Although Bassey’s talent was acknowledged as a child, she was never encouraged, even in the school choir. She left school at age 15 to work at Curran Steels and in the evening and weekends, she sang at local pubs and clubs. 



Bassey landed her first record contract after her Christmas show in London in 1955. When agent Mike Sullivan heard Bassey singing, he was impressed enough with her voice to begin managing her career. With this contract, she had her first British hit with the “Banana Boat Song”. She had subsequent chart toppers with “As I Love You”, “Reach for the Stars” and a top ten album of “Get the Party Started”. 


She later sang the theme songs for three of the James Bond movies, Goldfinger (1964), Diamonds are Forever (1971) and Moonraker (1979). Goldfinger reached the top 10 position in the Billboard Top 40 in 1965. Bassey is only one of two Welsh artists to have sung title songs for the James Bond series of movies.



In 1977 Bassey won the Britannia Award for Best Female Solo Singer in the Last 50 Years. In 1993 she was also made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) and in 2000 a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for her work in music.

What did Bassey do after leaving school at age 15? What started Bassey’s career in 1955? Why are her songs for the James Bond movies a great achievement as a Welsh artist?

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