10,000 Voices + 90s German Magazine Feature on Dame Shirley Bassey

t0582For today’s Video Showcase Dame Shirley Bassey’s performance at Cardiff Arms Park The Millennium Stadium, in her home town Cardiff, from 1993 with the World Choir which was released on CD and VHS. Also an interview for a German magazine from the same year.

EMI Classics, CDC 7 54889 2, UK. Recorded live at Cardiff Arms Park, May 29, 1993. Stage overview Orchestra: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (except track 14.) Musical director and conductor: Owain Arwel Hughes. Radio presentation: BBC Radio 2, September 4, 1993

The largest male voice choir ever assembled anywhere in the world. 8000 strong, sings to an audience of over 30.000 in Cardiff Arms Park, the sporting home of Wales. The world choir performs with Wales’ best loved star, Shirley Bassey. She sings some of her greatest hits, including Something, Hey Jude & Big Spender, whilst choirs from as far afield as the USA and Germany join their Welsh and English brethren.

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by David Wyndham Lewis:
The World Choir event was initially conceived at Cardiff Arms Park in 1990 and first came to fruition there on 23 May 1992. The proceedings opened (as scheduled) with the Four Bands of the Guards Division, accompanied by an (unscheduled) electrical storm of unprecedented ferocity. Nonetheless, the event was hailed as a success all over the world, as was the best selling EMI Classics record of it. Here indeed was a Welshman’s dream come true.

Inevitably the question was asked: how do you follow that? The answer: with an even larger choir, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and soloists Wynford Evans (tenor), Paata Burchuladze (bass), Oliver Sammons (treble), Catrin Finch (harpist) and the incredible Shirley Bassey. This second World Choir event, held on the Spring Bank Holiday exactly a year after the first, was in every way an amazing night of music. Cheered on by a crowd of over 30,000, the choir was a sensation both in familiar choruses and in more intricate numbers such as Kalinka and Nidaros; while the soloists, sometimes singing alone, sometimes with the 10,000, gave, as this record shows, of their best.

It is said in Wales that there is only one man who can control a choir of 10,000, an array of soloists, a full symphony orchestra and the weather all at the same time, and that is Owain Arwel Hughes. The man who conceived and established the Welsh Proms held each July in Cardiff accepted the role of music director and conductor of the World Choir event on the strict understanding that only genuine male-voice choirs were invited to participate: choirs who rehearse and perform throughout the year, choirs whose members give up their own time to perfect the joy of four-part harmony. The brilliant result of Owain’s efforts and those of the participating choirs are here for all to listen to on this second EMI World Choir recording.

cardiff arms park

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1993 being a very busy year for Dame Shirley as she also recorded her album  ‘Shirley Bassey sings the songs of Andrew Lloyd Webber,‘ and celebrated her 40th. year in show business and receives her CBE.

Picture of a billboard I took in Cardiff
Picture of a billboard I took in Cardiff


The interview from Frau im Spiegel Extra: The singer never, ever has been this honest about her happiness and unhappiness,
Her triumphs and downfalls. About God and the world.
Reporter from “Frau im Spiegel” Alf Schmidt met the diva in the Club of the Royal Ladies in Monte Carlo:

Shirley Bassey: “I’ve been through hell”:

A warm evening in Andorra. Happy voices on the terrace. Princess Angela von Hohenzollern is celebrating with the rich and famous ladies from her “Royal Ladies” of Monte Carlo.
The guest of honour is Shirley Bassey. “Gooooldfinger” made her world-famous.
She called me, when I was introduced to her, very angry: “Evil Finger”. Why?
“You wrote : I am a grandmother on stage! A Grandmother? Never! In my private life: yes. But not on stage!” On stage she is like in the ‘old’ (young) days. “Gooooldfinger….”
Then the misunderstanding reveals itself. “I thought you were somebody else…”
She hugs me and kisses me. She disappears under the table. I go down with her. What happened? “Damn it, I lost my earring”! An earring with a silver-framed emerald, the size of a child’s hand, can not disappear just like that. She is crawling and we are looking under the table together. She laughs and shakes. The earring fell in her cleavages when she hugged me.
She tries to grab it. Without success. “I can feel it, but can not get it” she says.
I offer her my help in a comical way. She: “Pull yourself together”.
Then we have the most wonderful conversation while drinking a glass of wine.
Not as reporter and star but as friends. About God and the world.
About the colour of her skin. “I am gorgeous. I am so gorgeous that everybody will say, when my day comes: “She’s just sleeping!”.

About God: “God is asleep” says Shirley:
“There is no other explanation for the fact that all religions have brought darkness and pain to this world. …. They kill in the name of God but he sleeps the sleep of justice. Justice?”

Frau im Spiegel 3
About the Pope: “The holy father does not know anything about the bible. Read Corinth 13,2. It says there, in a letter from the apostle Paul: “When I am able to prophet and I know all the secrets of the world and when I am a true believer, when I can move mountains but do not know love, so I am nothing. Loving means forgiving. I feel sorry for this man because he does not have the power to forgive”.
About God and the people: “Everybody has a destination which he can not pull off. Little chance to change  it, you’d need all the power and energy you can find. So there is no point in sitting down and wait for what’s coming. Sometimes God is too busy to look after me.”  Only once, no twice, no three times, she wished God had looked after her.
It was when her daughter Samantha drowned. It was when Shirley’s first husband killed himself. It was when her second marriage broke up and she was drowning in alcohol.
She had a very bad time and went through hell. Today what is the most important to her: A good dinner, to love and my voice.” The voice: five years ago a catastrophe happened. It was in Berlin. “A great audience. All of a sudden my voice cut out. I  was not even able to make an apology. I went trough hell. I thought: now it is all over.”
She found a father-like, good doctor. He said: “Shirley, you abused your God-given voice.
It has given you everything, what have you done for your voice? Nothing.”
She asked: “How can I reconcile with my voice?” He answered: “Act as an opera-singer;  vocal exercise every morning”.
“Now” Shirley says “My voice is better then ever. It reconciled with me”. The German audience has witnessed this last week. Shirley Bassey, this small, gracious woman back from the darkness to the spotlights. She believes in her own power. And the girl from the working-mans part of the Welsh city of Cardiff, daughter of a white workingman’s woman and a Nigerian father, is queen again. Wales is the kingdom in the south-west of Great Britain with as its head crown-prince Charles. Shirley was very happy once to meet him. Now she is not so sure anymore. About Princess Diana: “She was too young and too dumb to marry Charles. She thought she could change him.  I say: “No woman in this world can ever change a man, it is hopeless”. And then she says, feeling very sorry for the princess: “My husband never hit me, I swear. But Charles beats his wife every day in a way that he discourages her from morning till night. That’s even worse than slapping her. He does it in public and is satisfied only when his wife is crawling through the dust. My family always supported the Windsors, we thought God of them. The Queen was our rock. The royal family was an institute you could lean on. They stood above us….Today princes and princesses are coming down from their thrones and are among us. Some say: “Oh, how great” I say: “Nonsense. How can you admire them when they are not worth more than yourself- or even worse- less!”

The workingwoman’s-girl, she left home aged 16, to conquer the world. She sung her way into the hearts of millions. She won and sometimes she lost. Has her own philosophy what makes a royal person. “You have to be there: when I have to go on stage, when my hands are wet, when the people from the light, the stagehands, my band members, my manager are whirling around me, it is like a they are members of my court. And then when I go onto the stage and the audience are cheering me, I feel like a queen. They cheer at me and a power develops inside of me because I tell myself: “You can’t disappoint them, you have to give it all. And when they open their hearts, I can live on that for at least a whole week.”….
Once somebody gave her the well-meant advice to go down into the audience and to kiss and hug her audience. She refused . “All the princesses and queens that came down from their stages are merely a part of the audience and there was nobody left to look up to them”. O, Shirley how right you are”. After nights like that she goes back to her apartment in Monte Carlo, looks over the harbour, sees how the moon is shining over the water and is simply happy. As grateful as anybody can be who has a destination like hers.
“Because God is asleep and you can not rely on him blindly’, she says: “You have to make the best of your life. Always remember that! You have to tell yourself every day . I will.  But I can not hurt other people. I always have to try to make other people happy, make them laugh or at least make them smile. Then you truly lived life”.

5 thoughts on “10,000 Voices + 90s German Magazine Feature on Dame Shirley Bassey”

  1. Berenice, I don’t fully understand what you said but I am sure I agree with you! Shirley gave a stunning performance at Cardiff and I thought the article was excellent; a very deep incite into her thoughts and honest opinions. Thanks for sharing Pieter.

    Liked by 1 person

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