Blue Eyed Soul

March marks the anniversary of the death of soul icon Dusty Springfield. Dusty is one of my favourite all-time artists. Her sensational and distinctive mezzo soprano voice is the kind that gives you goose bumps and brings a tear to your eye.  Born in 1939, Dusty’s career spanned from the late 1950s right through to the 1990s until, sadly, she lost her life to breast cancer on March 2nd 1999.

As well as bringing us several hits, such as ‘The Look of Love’, ‘You Don’t Have to say You Love Me’ and ‘Son of a Preacher Man’, Dusty Springfield was also responsible for popularising soul music in the UK and bringing many little-known soul singers to the attention of the British public by hosting the first TV performances of Motown singers in 1965.

 

Dusty had an air of class and determination about her. Her iconic look of bleached blonde bouffant hair, heavy make-up and glamorous evening gowns, coupled with her elaborate performances and tenacious will to record music elevated Dusty to great heights. Despite never being regarded as a northern soul singer in her own right, Dusty became the best selling female artist of all time in 1966. Dusty really was the sweetheart of the swinging sixties!

 

In order to attain the credit she deserved and enhance her credibility as a soul artist, Dusty travelled to Memphis in the late 1960s to record an album of pop and soul, ‘Dusty in memphis’. This album was so successful that it has been repeatedly ranked as one of the greatest albums of all time.

 

Dusty had a voice that was both breathy and sensual yet marked by its vulnerability. Her powerful voice teamed with a sense of longing portrayed in her music left US radio listeners to assume that Dusty Springfield was African American.  But perhaps Darlene Love (an icon of Dusty’s) described her voice best: "Her voice wasn't black and it wasn't white. It was totally unique. You knew it was Dusty when she came on the radio."

Dusty has influenced innumerous pop and soul artists, including The Bangles, The Pretenders, Annie Lennox, Lisa Stansfield, Jos Stone, Sheryl Crow and Amy Winehouse, to name but a few, and she continues to be a great influence today.