Spotlight on ……
Dame Vera Lynn
Dame Vera Lynn is a living legend. Not only did she help keep the nation’s morale high during World War II, but she has also entertained millions around the world with her music for over seventy years.
Born Vera Welch in London’s East End on 20 March 1917, she was singing in working men’s clubs at the age of seven and joined the juvenile troupe Madame Harris’s Kracker Kabaret Kids when she was 11. Before her 15th birthday Vera had adopted her grandmother’s maiden name, Lynn, and was a vocalist with the Howard Baker Band. During the 1930s she also sung with briefly with Billy Cotton’s band, and made her recording, radio and TV debuts with the bands of Charlie Kunz, Joe Loss and Bert Ambrose, respectively.
The turning point in Vera’s career came in 1941, when the BBC asked her to host ‘Sincerely Yours’ – a radio show that linked servicemen overseas with their families at home. Before long, the programme’s uplifting closing theme, ‘We’ll Meet Again’, was on everyone’s lips and she became “The Forces’ Sweetheart”. 1941 was also a turning point in her private life, as she married her husband and manager of 57 years, Harry Lewis, who at the time was in the popular RAF band The Squadronaires.
This collection contains several standout songs from that eventful era including ‘A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square’, ‘The Anniversary Waltz’ and ‘As Time Goes By’, from the classic Humphrey Bogart movie ’Casablanca’. Other wartime winners spotlighted in this selection are the moving ‘I’ll Be Seeing You’ and Cole Porter’s ‘You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To’, which was first heard in the 1943 film ‘Something To Shout About’.
Surely no one can sing a sentimental song with such sincerity as Vera – to the armed forces in World War II she was “the girl at home” that they were fighting for. Who could be unmoved by her performances of patriotic paeans such as ‘Land Of Hope And Glory’, ‘There’ll Always Be An England’ or the unforgettable ‘White Cliffs Of Dover’ – a song that will forever be associated with her. Vera could also handle those
sing-a-long-a-war-song numbers with great aplomb; for proof simply listen to her medley of ‘Bless 'Em All’, ‘(We're Gonna Hang Out) The Washing On The Siegfried Line’ and ‘Kiss Me Goodnight Sergeant Major’.
Soon after the servicemen met their loved-ones again and “little Jimmy went to sleep in his own little room again”, Vera took a brief but well-earned break to start a family. However, she continued to record throughout the late 1940s, and scored her first American hit in this period. Her biggest Stateside success came in 1952 when ‘Auf Wiederseh’n, Sweetheart’ topped the transatlantic best sellers – in fact, her single headed the US charts for nine weeks – a feat that even The Beatles never equaled. Interestingly, 1952 was also the year of the first British chart, which contained more records by Vera than any other act. She continued to have hits throughout the 1950s, after most of her contemporaries had been sidelined by rock ’n’ roll, and she was still recording regularly until the mid-1980s.
On this carefully chosen collection she also offers her distinctive interpretations of the timeless 1920s tunes ‘It Had To Be You’ and ‘Bless This House’, alongside the thirties winners ‘Rose Of England’ and ‘I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter’. Additionally there are her inimitable renditions of late forties favourites ‘Love Letters’, ‘I’m Beginning To See The Light’ and the memorable Maori song, ‘Now Is The Hour’. Also featured are many of the greatest songs of the late 20th Century, including the No. 1 hits ‘Those Were The Days’, Louis Armstrong’s ‘What A Wonderful World’, ‘Amazing Grace’, Nat ‘King’ Cole’s perennially popular ‘Unforgettable’ in addition to Frank Sinatra’s ‘Strangers In the Night’ and ‘My Way’, each of which is given that unmistakable Lynn treatment.
Vera is a unique artist who has written her own chapter in the history of British music, and it came as no surprise when she was awarded the OBE in 1969, or made a Dame of the British Empire in 1975. She is one of the few artists whose popularity does not depend on record sales, as throughout her long and successful career she has always attracted large audiences whenever she performed, or simply appeared. Many musical trends have come and gone since she first started singing, but her recordings have always remained popular and she is still as well loved as ever. We are sure you’ll enjoy this selection of great songs that helped make Vera Lynn the leading lady of 20th Century British music.
Dave McAleer (Guinness World Records Book of British Hit Singles and Albums)
We’ll Meet Again – The Best of Vera Lynn
1. Land Of Hope And Glory (Adapted From 'Pomp & Circumstance' No 1)
2. There'll Always Be An England
3. Those Were The Days
4. What A Wonderful World
5. It Had To Be You
6. Anniversary Waltz
7. I'll Be Seeing You
8. Strangers In The Night
9. Love Letters
10. A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square
11. As Time Goes By
12. You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To
13. I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter
14. Medley: Bless 'Em All/(We're Gonna Hang Out The Washing) On The Siegfried Line/Kiss Me Goodnight Sergeant Major
Bless 'Em All (The Service Song)
(We're Gonna Hang Out) The Washing On The Siegfried Line
Kiss Me Goodnight Sergeant Major
15. Rose Of England
16. Bless This House
17. Now Is The Hour
18. I'm Beginning To See The Light
20. Amazing Grace
21. White Cliffs Of Dover
22. We'll Meet Again
23. My Way