Beloved British singer Vera Lynn, who in 2017 released a record-breaking new album and sponsored a charity concert, celebrated her 101st birthday on March 20, 2018.
- Posted on Mar 15, 2017
Merely living to the age of 100 is reason enough to celebrate, but beloved British singer Vera Lynn wasn't satisfied with that impressive accomplishment. On March 17, 2017, Lynn celebrated her centenarian status by releasing a new album, Vera Lynn 100, breaking the record she set at age 97 to remain the oldest person to ever release a new album, and on March 20, 2018, she celebrated her 101st birthday.
The album comprised some of her most beloved hits with her original vocals set to new re-orchestrations, with the addition of vocals from a number of contemporary British performers, among them Alfie Boe, who will be heard on We’ll Meet Again, Alexander Armstrong (White Cliffs Of Dover) and Aled Jones (As Time Goes By).
Lynn said of the centennial album, “It’s truly humbling that people still enjoy these songs from so many years ago, reliving the emotions of that time—I was after all just doing my job as a singer—and it’s so wonderful for me to hear my songs again so beautifully presented in a completely new way.”
Born Vera Margaret Welch on March 20, 1917, in East Ham, Essex, Lynn described turning 100 as “an incredible adventure of song, dance, and friendship." Just before her big day, on March 18, a charity concert at the London Palladium featuring some of Britain's best contemporary talent will pay tribute to Dame Vera and her remarkable life and career.
Affectionately known as "the Forces' Sweetheart" for the inspiring work she did during World War II, Lynn was performing for audiences by the tender age of seven (which means she's been in show business for more than 90 years) and by 11 had taken a stage name, Margaret Lynn (she later returned to her given first name, Vera). She first performed on the radio, with the popular Joe Loss Orchestra, in 1935, and in 1936 released her first solo recording, Up the Wooden Hill to Bedfordshire.
Lynn is best remembered today for her moving renditions of sentimental wartime favorites, such as The White Cliffs of Dover, A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, There'll Always Be an England, and her signature song, We'll Meet Again. She further supported the war effort by hosting her own radio program, Sincerely Yours, on which she performed songs that were requested by soldiers and sailors. She also visited hospitals to meet with new mothers so that she could send their husbands who were serving overseas messages of love and support.
Lynn dedicated herself during the war years to performing for the troops in such remote and often dangerous locales as Egypt, India and Burma. For her tireless and courageous efforts, she was awarded the British War Medal and the Burma Star.
Her career success and selfless acts weren't limited to the war years—or to the United Kingdom. She continued to record, topping the American charts (she was the first British performer to accomplish that feat) in 1952 with her recording of Auf Wiederseh'n Sweetheart, and she was a regular for some years on Tallulah Bankhead's American radio program, The Big Show.
In the late 1960s and early '70s, Lynn hosted her own variety television series on BBC1 and guested on a wide range of other TV programs.
In all, Lynn placed 16 singles on the charts (UK, US or both) between 1948 and 1967. After the war, she continued to work for many worthy causes, including assisting ex-servicemen, disabled children, and breast cancer charities.
In 1969, she was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire "for services to the Royal Air Forces Association and other charities." In 1975, she was advanced to Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE). At age 85, Lynn founded the Dame Vera Lynn Children’s Charity, which provides support and education for families affected by cerebral palsy.
We'd call Lynn's life to date 101 years well spent, and we can't wait to see what lies ahead for her. Happy birthday, Dame Vera, and many happy returns of the day!
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