Dame Vera Lynn is about to launch another assault on the record charts – at the grand old age of 97.
The Second World War ‘Forces’ Sweetheart’ already has an unassailable position in the music industry record books. But now she is about to totally rewrite them.
Today, on her 97th birthday, she reveals plans for another album of songs – including some that, remarkably, have never been heard before.
The record will be released in June to mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings. And it will almost certainly mean breaking the very record she herself set in 2009 when she became the oldest living artist to have an official UK No 1 album.
“It’s wonderful that my songs are still enjoyed, especially if it encourages people to commemorate what happened 70 years ago,” she says.
Dame Vera, who will be the subject of a special Radio 2 interview for the D-Day anniversary, first took to the stage at the age of seven. According to her recording company Decca, today’s birthday makes her the first singer to celebrate 90 years in show business.
She’s also now credited with the first ever UK chart No 1 – the 1940 wartime anthem We’ll Meet Again. Until recently British chart records only started at 1952, but freshly analysed sales figures have enabled the industry to go back a further 12 years to 1940. And in case her dominance was in any doubt, she was also the first British performer to top the official American charts with her 1952 hit Auf Wiedersehen, Sweetheart.
What Decca bosses are most excited by, though, is the discovery of two previously unreleased tracks which were found in an old box by Dame Vera’s daughter Virginia. The songs, dating back to the early part of her career, were recorded on to tape, but never released on vinyl.
So, final word to the birthday girl, Dame Vera: “It’s moving for me to relive those days and humbling to know that people still think of me.”
Vera Lynn: National Treasure (a collection of 40 of her biggest hits) is released on 2 June