Category Archives: Video Showcase

Dame Shirley Bassey performs at Gorbachev 80th. birthday party -2011-

Yesterday we heard the very sad news about the passing of the great Mikhail Gorbachev. That is why you can watch this post once more that was originally from 2011 when Dame Shirley Bassey performed at the Royal Albert Hall in London for his 80th. birthday

There are two videos on YouTube of Dame Shirley Bassey’s performance at the Royal Albert Hall in London for mr. Gorbachev 80th. birthday party. Songs: ‘Diamonds are forever’ and ‘The lady is a tramp’.  She sounded and looked amazing. (With special thanks to Susan)

From Bloomberg.com:

Storming Shirley
The good-bad, stop-start energy was flagging until Dame Shirley Bassey stormed in and bellowed “Diamonds are Forevuuuuuh!” She gave everyone an object lesson in old- fashioned razzle-dazzle and in jump-starting a catatonic audience. They should market her as a defibrillator.

From WalesOnline:

Mikhail Gorbachev celebrated his 80th birthday at a star-studded charity gala in London last night, where he honoured Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the founder of the internet as a “man who changed the world”.

The former Soviet leader personally chose Sir Tim, CNN founder Ted Turner, and Kenyan engineer Evans Wadongo, as the winners of the inaugural Gorbachev Awards.

The Mikhail Gorbachev – The Man Who Changed The World gala at the Royal Albert Hall was hosted by Kevin Spacey and Sharon Stone.

It featured performances from Dame Shirley Bassey, Katherine Jenkins, Bryan Ferry, Paul Anka, Melanie C, Valery Gergiev and the London Symphony Orchestra.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former governor of California, Lech Walesa, the former Polish president, and actresses Goldie Hawn and Milla Jovovich were among stars who made a red-carpet entrance to the event.

Also due to attend were Israeli president Shimon Peres, former Prime Minister Sir John Major and England football manager Fabio Capello.

Proceeds from the evening were to be donated to the Raisa Gorbachev Children’s Institute for Transplantology and Haematology in St Petersburg, and to Macmillan Cancer Support.

The Gorbachev Awards were presented in three categories, intended to reflect the former Soviet leader’s own achievements in the world. Mr Gorbachev, who turned 80 earlier this month, is widely credited with ending the Cold War. He won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1992.

The three Man Who Changed the World awards were:

Gllasnost, awarded to Mr Turner for his “contribution to the development of the culture of an open world”. Mr Turner, 72, is known not only for founding CNN but also as a philanthropist who donated one billion dollars to the United Nations.

Uskorenie, awarded to Mr Wadongo for his “contribution to the development of modern science and technology”. Mr Wadongo, 25, from Kenya, invented a solar-powered LED lantern at 18.

Perestroika, awarded to Sir Tim for his “contribution to the development of global civilisation”. Sir Tim invented the World Wide Web in 1989.

Mr Gorbachev said: “These three people have each, in their own way, changed the world for their fellow men and women in ways which affect all our lives.

“Each and every one possesses the ability to make a difference and the Gorbachev Awards have been established to those people who achieve this and to provide inspiration to all of us to try.”

The evening’s finale was due to be the debut performance of a song called Changing The World For Us All, written by Paul Anka and Andrey Makarevich and performed by the two men alongside Katherine Jenkins and the Turetsky Choir.

The evening’s co-host, actress Sharon Stone, said of Mr Gorbachev: “He has carried himself presidentially through the world since, doing good things around the world and carrying his desire to be a good citizen through his life.

“I’m very honoured to be asked, I’m very honoured to help to introduce all of the extraordinary people who are here to honour Mr Gorbachev.

“It’s an amazing thing to have been a child and growing up and seeing a country that we were at odds with – and now to have an extraordinary opportunity to go to that country and then to work with this particular man, doing good works around the world. It demonstrates to us that there really is no need to be at odds with anyone.”

Mr Turner, speaking as he arrived the gala, described the former Soviet leader’s achievements as “peacefully ending a Cold War and letting the republics of the Soviet Union democratically leave because they wanted to, and saved millions of lives and another world war”.

He added: “That’s pretty good, don’t you think? And that ain’t all he did – that’s just some of it.”

Former Spice Girl Melanie C, who performed at the event, said: “He’s an incredibly inspirational person and I’m just really honoured that I was invited to be performing for him here tonight.

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The Moscow Times:

It was a bizarre evening in the Royal Albert Hall.

If you had ever been asked who would attend the 80th birthday celebration for the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, it is unlikely that you would have answered Shirley Bassey, the Scorpions and one of the Spice Girls.

But they and many more stars were in attendance for a birthday party late Wednesday — a concert and an awards ceremony with the grand, almost James Bond title of “Mikhail Gorbachev: The Man Who Changed the World.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger, conductor Valery Gergiyev, former Polish President Lech Walesa and Israeli President Shimon Peres were among those who joined Gorbachev as well as Mel C — formerly Sporty Spice — as the night moved from the cheesy and over-the-top to touching and back again in the blink of an eye.

“I never expected to live until 80, but now I take on the responsibility of living until I am 90,” Gorbachev joked in a short speech at the start of the evening.

The nigh-on four-hour event was hosted by — again, who would have guessed it — actors Sharon Stone and Kevin Spacey, who spoke in front of a neo-classical column decorated with pink curtains.

They tried but failed to do an impression of Academy Awards ceremony hosts, Spacey the joker doing impressions of Bill Clinton and Jack Nicholson but sadly no voices relevant to Gorbachev’s time in office, and Stone the ditzy co-host with a number of dress changes. Hearing both of them continuously mangle various Russian names and concepts added a level of surreality to the event, which was attended by numerous Russians.

Announcing that Andrei Arshavin and Roman Pavlyuchenko — football forwards from Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspurs, respectively — were in the audience, Spacey mangled their names to unrecognizability and then tried to get laughs with the hoary joke about a “perestroikas” [pair of strikers] being present.

The evening began with a film showing world figures such as Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa with schmaltzy quotes about changing the world before moving on to Gorbachev drawing applause from the black-tie crowd who had paid up to £100,000 ($160,000) to be at the event.

Aging German rock band the Scorpions sang their song “Wind of Change” about the political changes in Eastern Europe and brought tears to at least one audience member. No tears came when they followed that up with their song “Rock You Like a Hurricane.”

But the fact that the night was taking place in London rather than anywhere in the former Soviet Union underlined the fact that Gorbachev remains a divisive figure in his homeland, where many fault him for changing their world. Not that many at the show appeared to realize that.

There were many tributes to Gorbachev, but the hosts in particular seemed to be bent on just saying the phrase “the man who changed the world” or talking of how Gorbachev had allowed to Russia to become “free and democratic” over and over again.

Some in the audience, and surely Gorbachev himself, who recently chastised Vladimir Putin for backtracking on democracy, may have felt the huge gap between rhetoric and reality on the night.

The total Hollywoodization of Gorbachev’s role came when Russian pop group Khor Turetskogo (the Turetsky Choir) sang the African-American spiritual song, “Go Down, Moses,” only to change the lyrics to “Gorbachev, Let My People Go.”

This was followed by Mel C singing the famous Nina Simone song “Ain’t Got No/I Got Life.” The singer tweeted before the show that she would be singing the word “boobies” before lots of dignitaries that night.

Outside Albert Hall, a small group of protesters held up a banner saying “Gorby, help us reload perestroika!” Meanwhile, Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky’s lawsuit to have Gorbachev arrested for his crimes as Soviet leader was rejected by a London court.

A few weeks before, at a reception at the British Embassy, he noted, with false modesty perhaps, that he would have preferred to have just “sat in a corner” for his birthday, and that it was his family who was behind the event.

That may explain the eclectic line-up on the night.

One of the few poignant moments came in a short film showing musician Andrei Makarevich playing the guitar as Gorbachev sang the words to a love song from the 1940s, accompanied by photos of him and his late wife Raisa.

Actress Milla Jovovich, who was born in the then-Soviet republic of Ukraine, also gave a more heartfelt speech to Gorbachev that brought her to tears. “When I left the Soviet Union in 1980, we were sure that we would never return to be able to see our loved ones again, and now we are able to reunite with friends, so thank you,” she said.

Each of the prizes at the awards ceremony was meant to correspond with the three buzzwords of Gorbachev’s time in office: “perestroika,” “glasnost” and “uskoreniye,” or restructuring, openness and acceleration.

The prizes went to, respectively, CNN founder Ted Turner; 25-year-old Kenyan engineer Evans Wadongo, who developed a solar lamp for poor Kenyans; and Sir Tim Berners Lee, the British scientist credited with inventing the Internet. Lee’s award was accepted by his brother.

Proceeds from the event are set to go to a cancer charity named after Gorbachev’s wife and to Britain’s Macmillan Cancer Support.

Veteran singer Paul Anka finished the show off with a swagger and nimbleness that belied the fact that he is not much more than a decade younger than Gorbachev.

After singing “You Are My Destiny,” his 1957 hit, which the Gorbachev family had personally asked for, he sang his most famous song, “My Way.”

“I originally wrote this song for Frank Sinatra, but it’s indigenous to you,” Anka said rather awkwardly before blasting out the song.

And then fake snow fluttered down on to the crowd at the end as Anka and Makarevich sang a song they had jointly written about Gorbachev and about changing the world.

Here is the video that our own blog team member Susan made at the Royal Albert Hall for mr. Gorbachev’s 80th. birthday concert. Susan was one of the lucky fans that got a ticket for the event.

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James Bond Rejected Songs and Rarities

A few months ago I received, what must be, a very rare 4 CD set of James Bond Rejected Songs and Rarities. I googled it but could not find other copies of it. Below you can listen to all the Shirley Bassey related songs.

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Anthony Newley Goldfinger Demo 1
Anthony Newley Goldfinger Demo 2
Shirley Bassey Goldfinger single version
Shirley Bassey Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Dionne Warwick Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Dame Shirley Bassey No Good About Goodbye
Peter Serafinowicz Goldfinger

Shirley Bassey reflects on her ‘James Bond’ theme tunes (from Far Out Magazine)  Continue reading……..

No Good About Goodbye was not a rejected theme for `Quantum of Solace` Continue reading…….

Before Tom Jones was chosen for the title track of this Sean Connery classic, the title song was called ‘Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’, and was sung by Dionne Warwick.
When there were concerns about Warwick’s delivery, it was later re-recorded by Shirley Bassey. However, both versions were not released until the 1990s.
The song was removed after United Artists requested that the theme song contain the film’s title in its lyrics. When it was planned to use the Warwick version in the end titles, Shirley Bassey sued the producers, leading to neither version being heard. Continue reading……..

More about the recording of Goldfinger CLICK HERE

Dame Shirley Bassey performing at the Oscars -2013-

2013 Oscars

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For this blog we have three interviews with Dame Shirley Bassey before and after the 85th. Annual Academy Awards (Oscars) in Los Angeles 2013.  Of course also her out of this world performance of  Goldfinger that you can watch now here in HQ.  Also below an article about her performance by Paul Wilson. Dame Shirley was the only one who sang live at the Oscars and in this article, that already gives you goosebumps, you can read all about that.

Dame Shirley Bassey performs the song "Goldfinger" during a tribute to the James Bond films at the 85th Academy Awards in Hollywood

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Barbra Streisand & Dame Shirley Bassey

Barbra Streisand & Dame Shirley Bassey

Barbra Streisand, Adele & Dame Shirley Bassey
Barbra Streisand, Adele & Dame Shirley Bassey

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The Oscars celebrates the pinnacle of Hollywood’s achievements. It’s not surprising then that the producers want to put on the best show possible.

I talked to Stuart Barr, musical director to Dame Shirley Bassey 2009-15, about creating unforgettable experiences. And why he insisted on risking playing live in front of a global audience to ensure they got a world-class performance.

His story is fascinating and refreshing. In a world where people are trying to automate and codify experiences, it is surprising to hear how jeopardy and spontaneity are the bedrock of creating unforgettable moments.

How did you get to be conducting Dame Shirley at the Oscars?

Being musical director to Dame Shirley Bassey meant I conducted her and the orchestra for all her appearances worldwide. She gets many, many invites to perform and picks and chooses. When the Academy Awards approached us to perform “Goldfinger” to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Bond franchise in 2013, it was a no-brainer to accept!

I was involved in discussions with the producer before Dame Shirley was even asked. He wanted us to pre-record the orchestra and have her mime, but it was my job to persuade him that he would have to change his plans to allow both orchestra and singer to perform live. My biggest bargaining chips were that she would deliver a far better performance because it was live; that she’s passionate about the power of live performance; and would be unlikely to accept unless it was live!

So your role as the musical director is to ensure she gives her best possible performance?

Absolutely, the most important role of a musical director is to enable performers to perform at their best. Particularly with her, that means psychological as well as musical support.

She is a very classy, old-school musician. She gets a huge buzz from singing live with an orchestra. She also likes having a musical director close by her in performance: a psychologically-important soulmate.

A good musical director needs to understand what the artist needs, and then work back from there: crafting the performance together.

So how is the Oscars typically run from a music perspective?

Most of the performances at the 2013 Oscars were not 100% live: either the orchestra was pre-recorded, and/or the singer miming, and that includes some big names. The reason is that is the culture of Hollywood is to be apparently perfect. However, that is an utter misnomer in my book. Perfect in their eyes means accurate, but accurate does not a great performance make!

Can you expand on that a bit more – the Hollywood version of perfection?

OK, a classic example is that for the first 50-60 years of Hollywood musicals “ghost singers” were frequently used. For example, in ‘My Fair Lady’ you may have seen Audrey Hepburn act as Eliza Doolittle, but all her singing was overdubbed by Marni Nixon because although Hepburn’s voice was good it wasn’t deemed good enough.

Do you see what I mean? There is a veneer of perfection and accuracy there, but ultimately it is just piecing together things in a very filmic fashion. Thus, it wasn’t surprising to discover that the Oscars has a similar veneer of authenticity. I was determined to change that.

So how does that differ from your view of perfection in terms of getting the best possible performance?

Brilliant question – I remember the Oscar’s producer asking me “Why can’t you at least pre-record the orchestra: she’s sung it thousands of times before? Surely it’s the same every time?”

I said, “You couldn’t be further from the truth.” For example, when you get to “It’s the kiss of death… for Mr Goldfinger’ That pause on the word ‘death’ is different every time because she’s ‘in the moment’: emotions differ, the interpretation changes. And that’s where the conductor is following every little bit of body language and her breathing, to bring in the orchestra spot on for the word “Goldfinger”.

In the case of the live Oscars performance, she spontaneously paused on the word ‘death’ for longer than she’d ever done before. If we’d pre-recorded the orchestra, it would have been a musical mess: she would have been jolted out of performance flow, and the overall result would have been much poorer.

And what does that spontaneity give the performance?

It gives it a sense of danger. Ultimately, what she is doing is playing with the audience and with their expectations.

It’s a bit like ‘striptease’. Strip tease only works if someone removes their clothes slower than the audience wants them to remove their clothes. If they are removing their clothes at the same speed or faster there is no tease!

Exactly the same happens with music. The audience has a set of expectations. But when the performer denies those expectations and does something unexpected, the audience sense the danger and values the uniqueness.

So she has sung Goldfinger live hundreds of times before, and the audience has heard the recording countless times. But when they are listening to it live, by making small changes and withholding something, she is creating tension and breaking expectations?

Yes, and likewise when you listen to the last 20 seconds of the performance we get faster to the level I’ve never taken that song to before – we probably get about 20% faster by the normal tempo beat by the end.

We’d never done that before. We didn’t agree to do it in advance. But there was something in what she was doing that I was thinking you want to go faster, so I accelerated more than ever before and you will never hear another performance of Goldfinger quite like that.

Now that caused havoc for the Oscars live broadcast!

That jeopardy is the other reason they tried to insist on a pre-recorded version. Following Goldfinger was an advert break. As tv advertising is done on a state-by-state basis, each local station needs to know when to press ‘start on their adverts. They normally get a precise electronic count-down to the ‘junction’.

And that was the one time in the Oscars where they didn’t know precisely where the junction was coming: they had to wing it. It was a jeopardy they weren’t used to, but that’s the human joy of being “live”!

So, what is the benefit of taking that type of risk when there is a clear downside?

I guess because of the performance you get out of her, get out of me and the Orchestra, is electric, exciting and that for me is the upside of risk. It’s what makes the performance special. It’s what makes the critics say “OMG, who is this woman in her late 70’s? She was the best part of the Oscars!”

My favourite moment was when the producer came to me the next day and said “I have to hand it to you guys. You were the best thing on the show last night.” So, I looked him straight in the eye and said: “Yes, that’s what happens when you perform live…”

Is that why people value live performances? Do you see something unique and different and not just a reproduction?

Absolutely. When you see Adele I think part of her success is that she is rather gobby, and a (verbal) loose cannon. If you cleaned her language up and tied her to a script, it wouldn’t feel as human. We love seeing humans with authenticity, so perhaps that is what many people like in Adele.

There’s also something else – have you heard the term ‘showstopper’? Its true meaning is when the show is physically stopped… by the audience.

I remember this vividly when we once performed with the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra. When she started singing one of her most famous and profound songs: “I am what I am. And what I am is no illusion…’ the audience went bananas! I had to pause the orchestra for about 20 seconds until the ovation subsided.

That is what you call a showstopper: where the power that exists on stage in the hand of the artist and conductor has been relinquished to the audience to express their moment of immense excitement and enjoyment. And we just had to let them have it because we can’t do anything until they give us the permission to carry on!

It’s a glorious moment of spontaneity which could not exist in the recorded world: the ultimate interaction where the audience is giving something to the performer, and you are powerless to do anything other than relish it!

So, to create phenomenal experiences risk and jeopardy are essential?

Absolutely. My performance mantra is to ‘take advantage of the opportunities and moments as they occur: that’s how you make the audience feel special’. Otherwise, you carry on regardless and every show becomes the same: life is boring, and it’s not going to persuade people to part with their money to pay you to perform! Risk-taking is the bedrock of live performance: other performers take note from one of the best performers of the past 60 years!

Thanks for reading. I write regularly about the world of advertising and media.

FOLLOW ME on LinkedIn to see my latest articles and updates.

If you liked this article you might enjoy some of my previous articles here:

Running to work – how running can help you create a better working life
The consultants are coming – and why the culture question is overblown
Don’t use data like Rousseau paints tigers
Stuart Barr is a conductor and music entrepreneur. He was musical director to Dame Shirley Bassey for 6 years (including the Oscars, Queen’s Diamond Jubilee concert and her final Abbey Road album). He guest conducts orchestras inc. the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and is Chairman of the London Youth Choir. Having just completed an MBA at Cambridge Judge Business School, Stuart is founding a Music Education AI startup. http://www.stuartbarr.net

Göttinnen unsere Zeit Hamburg -Dame Shirley Bassey-

At the beginning of 2013  Dame Shirley Bassey gave her last live performance where she sang more than 2 songs at the Laeiszhalle in Hamburg and it was just spectacular. Not only did Dame Shirley get a standing ovation at her entrance and exit to the the stage but after EVERY song! Dame Shirley got very emotional because of the wonderful reception she got. 

The voice was in perfect shape and she looked fabulous of course wearing the white gown she also wore for Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee concert.

She did 5 songs: Goldfinger, Something, Diamonds Are Forever, The Lady Is a Tramp & I Am What I Am.

The orchestra was fabulous and it must have been great for her to perform with such a large group of great musicians. The Hamburg Symphony Orchestra.

Below a video of her performance plus the good quality audio

Newspaper article from German newspaper

Wales on line

Hamburger Abendblatt

Here are some pictures:

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-Program-

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Introduction of Dame Shirley
Goldfinger
Something
Diamonds Are Forever

Dame Shirley talks with the audience

The Lady Is A Tramp

Dame Shirley thanks

I Am What I Am