Shirley Bassey’s voice is gold! But the reason I adore her is not just her talent and inspirational music, but the life she lived. Before I learned the life Shirley lived, I could never think that such a wonderful talent could have been cultivated in a life like that. While her songs have a feeling of passion and experiences, I had thought it was merely her talent that allowed such feelings to be conveyed in the songs. I am a young fan, so her origins came as a surprise to me, but it also inspired me, the trials in her life just made me realize that the diamond that is Shirley Bassey was formed through great pressure and heat.
One Saturday morning while listing to some of Shirley’s songs on YouTube, I found a link to a documentary about her. Though I considered myself a fan even back then, I was the type to like the talent and music, and never concerned myself of the private lives of the artists I liked. Since I had little to do that day, I decided to watch the documentary and learn more about the origins of a great artist. It surprised me to know that she had very humble beginnings, in a port town that had a bit of infamy, though an infamy underserved, being a community that was rather warm and close. Shirley’s father was a Nigerian sailor and her mother was a British white woman, which made her neither and both. She was one of seven children in a home with income that was just enough. All of this was surprising, as I had thought back then that to nurture such a star like Shirley, one would need an environment that would allow her to grow her talents without a care. Looking back it was foolish of me to look at things that way.
She started her career very humbly, as a singer in a local pub, though she gained the respect of the patrons of the pub, her salary was merely pocket money that allowed her to contribute a little at home and enjoy herself. Since childhood she loved singing, as many of her friends and family members said in the documentary, but she was a shy girl that needed to be polished. Sadly enough her first shot in a career on stage ended very rough, with pregnancy and ending up working as a waitress to support her home and child. Though she was genuinely happy with her life back then, contented and never thought going back on stage, another shot in showbiz came.
At first she refused, being contented with her life already, the persistence of the person inviting her made her do it for what was probably a onetime thing, it was at that moment that she met the manager that helped her become the star she is today. Life continued with controversies, relationships formed and broken, things you would make you ask “who is writing her life script”, but she always prevailed in the end.
It is this life that inspired me to push on through with my dreams, it is Shirley Bassey’s personality that made me love her music even more. It is not just her talent that allows her to sing the songs she sings with true feelings, it is her experiences in life, her determination, and her spirit that really makes her performances so strong.
I have been very vague about Shirley Bassey’s life story, and this was on purpose, I would like you to truly watch her biography as that would allow you to know her more and truly get what I am talking about. It is when you get to know more about the artist do you truly grasp the meaning of her songs and the stories behind the performances.
I wrote this entry while listening to her old recordings, and with what I know about the things that transpired during the time of those recordings, I can feel her emotions, the struggles behind the voice, the happiness of a moment, the hidden sadness in a performance. I believe that these experiences helped propel her to success and allowed her to grow as an artist and a person.
Shirley Bassey is an artist I am a fan of, and a person I admire. Her songs allows me to relax my mind and reach in to my feelings, and the story of her life taught me that no matter how chaotic things might seem in the present, as long as you push on and follow through you will reach the end of the tunnel. And much like how she reached her success, we can reach our goals through pushing on and moving forward, living life with will and determination, no matter the circumstance.