Following on from her unprecedented triumph last year in achieving a No.1 album at the age of 92 with We’ll Meet Again – The Very Best of Vera Lynn, Dame Vera is set to release another Decca album which, this time, includes a sequence of tracks which lay untouched since being recorded over 60 years ago.
Dame Vera and her daughter Virginia recently decided to sort through some boxes of vintage memorabilia that had been saved over the years. Among the boxes were some 78s and LPs which Dame Vera – prompted by the renewed interest in the songs of her heyday – thought would be worth sorting through and putting to good use. Archivist Andrew Dalton quickly joined them to investigate and it was then they discovered some acetates which had not been issued or even heard by anyone since 1947:
“I finally discovered at the bottom of an old cupboard what in my dreams I had scarcely hoped to find: a bag of dusty acetate recordings with faded, barely legible handwritten labels . . . These fragile discs were almost certainly one-offs and had lain neglected and unheard for over 60 years.” (Andrew Dalton, Archivist)
When the archivist heard the transferred recordings he was: “both moved and thrilled . . . It more than surpassed my wildest expectations”. All the discs, and other treasured memorabilia, have now been removed from Dame Vera’s house to be stored for future generations to enjoy. The precious discs now join the Decca archive for safe-keeping.
Decca, her original record label, has taken on the loan of the recordings, delighted to have the privilege of mastering them for the first time and releasing them on a new collection entitled ‘Unforgettable’ on 24th May. The previously unreleased tracks showcase Vera Lynn’s distinctive voice in its prime. The first of these is a moving love song, I’ve Never Loved Anyone - which tells of finding ‘the one’. This recording would have been made just a few years into her marriage to clarinettist/saxophonist Harry Lewis in 1941, making it all the more meaningful. We can also hear for the first time Dame Vera bringing her unique style to Gershwin’s haunting lullaby Summertime – another particularly poignant song, having been recorded only a year or so after Vera Lynn became a mother. Another precious discovery is the one and only duet that exists with her fellow ‘forces’ sweetheart’ Anne Shelton, Say Something Sweet.
In addition to these hidden gems a rather more recent recording will also be made available on the forthcoming album – a new song called Not Forgotten, recorded just last year with the female swing duo Swingtime Sweethearts. This track features a heartfelt plea spoken by Dame Vera, urging us all to remember the sacrifices made by our brave servicemen and women, from past and present conflicts. Proceeds from this original track go to her own Trust for Children with Cerebral Palsy and the Not Forgotten Association, which raises money for the serving wounded and ex-Service with disabilities.
A living legend like no other, Dame Vera Lynn’s influence never fails to inspire. 10-year-old Chloe Hickinbottom recently appeared on the new series of ITV1 show Britain’s Got Talent singing a ‘Vera Lynn number’, proving that the songs made famous by the Dame and passed down through the generations are here to stay.
Dame Vera herself is excited about the release of the recently discovered material: “It’s great to be able to find some tracks of my recordings that haven’t been heard before, and I hope that people who are used to hearing the established songs will find something a little different”