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Being coloured was never my problem, never has been – Dame Shirley Bassey


Born to a Nigerian Father, Shirley’s life was tough from her early childhood. There was no money and no prospect of any. The community around her was in terminal economic decline. The newspapers were branding ‘half-caste girls’ like her as a social problem.

But it was grinding poverty rather than racism that appears to have stuck in Shirley’s memory. ‘Being colored was never my problem, never has been,’ she says. ‘In Cardiff, our problem was more basic. A four letter word: food.

‘We were living from day to day, and this got into my heart and my soul. It wasn’t a happy childhood. But I had as much love from my mother as she could possibly give to the youngest of so many children, and not having my father around Dame Shirley has often said that she owes her success to her mother.

Shirley’s career began in the mid-1950s, best known for both her powerful operatic voice and for recording the theme songs to the James Bond films Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever (1971), and Moonraker (1979). In January 1959, Bassey became the first Welsh person to gain a No. 1 single. She is the only artist ever to record 3 James Bond songs.

In 2000, Bassey was made a Dame for services to the performing arts. In 1977 she received the Brit Awards for Best British Female Solo Artist in the previous 25 years.Bassey has been called “one of the most popular female vocalists in Britain during the last half of the 20th century

Shirley is an inspiration to BBE and the world at large.