As a lifelong student of the great practitioners of song, I (along with millions of others) were spellbound by Shirley Bassey’s performance on the 2013 Oscar telecast.
Bassey, who is in her mid 70s, looked fantastic as she took the stage in a form fitting gold sequined gown, appropriately, to launch into one of her signature hits, the theme song from GOLDFINGER. Bassey appeared at the climax of a “50 Years of Bond” celebration during the Oscar telecast.
As wonderful as she looked, it’s when she came to the mic and opened her mouth that the phenomenon was there in all its glory. Her instrument, still powerful, expressive and capable of amazing belt, has taken on a burnished quality that comes from years of knowledgeable and intelligent singing – not what one typically finds in this repertoire (and increasingly less so in the classical repertoire). In some ways, the voice has more attributes now than it did years ago. And make no mistake about those years. GOLDFINGER was released in the mid-60s and Bassey recorded the original track.
You likely caught this bit of performance history live. But in the event you didn’t, here is a well produced clip on youtube (without introduction by Halle Berry):
I, for one, got enormous pleasure out of watching this multiple times and studying her technique. If you want a clue about where to start, watch the amazing support she conjures from the front diaphragm.
I’m not a Bond fan per se, but there’s no question about it: This, ladies and gentlemen, is how it is done.
Brava, Dame Shirley. You stole the Oscar show right out from underneath Hollywood’s feet.