Happy 100th Birthday to our much-loved Dame Vera Lynn!
Vera's career began in the 1930s as a dance band vocalist, with among others Howard Baker (who 'discovered' her, singing at Poplar Baths), Charlie Kunz, Orlando and most notably, with Ambrose and his orchestra. I seem to remember that Vera chose one of her earliest recordings, 'Heart of Gold' (with Charlie Kunz's Casani Club Orchestra) as one of her Desert Island Discs and it's a very touching vocal, already sung (aged 19), with her trademark sincerity and directness.
In 1995, The PDO performed for the 50th Anniversary of VE Day in Hyde Park. We played 'They Can't Black Out The Moon' and 'American Patrol' among other wartime gems, 'live' on Radio 2's Desmond Carrington Show. Afterwards, we heard Dame Vera singing on the big stage - I particularly remember her moving rendition of 'When The Lights Go On Again', a song of hope for the end of the war, which she sang with great feeling. Touching also to think that in her audience in 1995 would have been many for whom her voice must have meant so much during the war years.
My first Vera Lynn 78 was an Indian pressing of 'The Anniversary Waltz', which I bought c.1973 in Nairobi. A sure sign of how far her music had traveled!