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Shirley Bassey (b.1937) with Her Mother Eliza-Jane Metcalfe (1901–1981)

© the copyright holder. Image credit: courtesy of National Portrait Gallery, London

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Dame Shirley Veronica Bassey was the youngest of seven children. Her musical career has included 30 hit singles and 33 hit albums and was launched in 1957 with the 'Banana Boat Song'. Other hits in the 1950s include 'Kiss Me Honey Honey, Kiss Me' (1958) and the UK chart topper 'As I Love You' (1958). In 1960 Bassey, now signed to EMI's Columbia label, scored a number two hit with 'As Long As He Needs Me', from Lionel Bart's musical 'Oliver!'. Other 1960s Top 10 hits were 'Reach for the Stars' (1961),'What Now My Love?' (1962) and 'I (Who Have Nothing)' (1963) and many top selling LPs. In 1977 she received a Britannia Award for 'Best female Solo Singer In The Last 50 Years'. Known for her dynamic singing, extravagant gestures and lavishly styled gowns, she was one of the first black British performers to gain international fame.

National Portrait Gallery, London



Shirley Bassey (b.1937) with Her Mother Eliza-Jane Metcalfe (1901–1981)




gelatin silver print


H 22.8 x W 20.5 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

given by Terence Pepper, 2014

Work type



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