Most people would agree that the James Bond films represent one of the most iconic series to this day, but have you ever wondered who is behind the iconic theme songs found in the movies? Moonraker, Diamonds are Forever, and Goldfinger were all sung by the glamorous Shirley Bassey, a black Welsh artist who yearned for the stage ever since her teenage days. Born Dame Shirley Veronica Bassey in 1937, she was the youngest of seven children from an English mother and a Nigerian father, who separated before she was three years old. Her family grew up in the working class region of Cardiff, Wales, but she had bigger dreams than just a 9 to 5.
When she was 15, she left school and hustled her way through adolescence by working in factories, singing in men’s clubs, and performing in touring revues. Her first big breakthrough happened in 1955 during a Christmas show in London, where she landed her first record contract. Shortly after in 1957, her first British hit was released titled, “Banana Boat Song.” Bassey’s sultry voice, exquisite dresses, and all-out diva personality helped her to become one of the first black British entertainers to gain not only national, but international fame!
In 1977, she was awarded the Britannia Award for Best Female Solo Singer in the Last 50 Years, but she wasn’t going to stop making music there. Bassey’s fame stayed with her through her golden years. In 2007 at age 70, she experienced a bit of a resurgence when she performed at the Glastonbury Festival. She also was given a spot on the Top Ten Album List with Get The Party Started. Throughout the 2010s she continued to make hit songs such as Hello Like Before, and I Owe It All To You.
Present day, she resides in Monaco at 88 years old. Who knows, maybe Bassey will have another renaissance? Regardless, her music will live forever!