“Wishing and Hoping and Thinking and Dreaming”
Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien (16 April 1939 – 2 March 1999), professionally known as Dusty Springfield, was a British pop singer and record producer whose career extended from the late 1950s to the 1990s. With her distinctive mezzo-soprano sound, she was an important singer of blue-eyed soul and at her peak was one of the most successful British female performers, with six top 20 singles on the US Billboard Hot 100 and sixteen on the UK Singles Chart from 1963 to 1989. She is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and UK Music Hall of Fame. International polls have named Springfield among the best female rock artists of all time. Her image, supported by a peroxide blonde bouffant hairstyle, evening gowns, and heavy make-up, as well as her flamboyant performances, made her an icon of the Swinging Sixties.
The 60’s is where my story leads, to her bravery in the face of diversity.
Springfield brought many little-known soul singers to the attention of a wider UK record-buying audience by hosting the first national TV performance of many top-selling Motown artists beginning in 1965. Partly owing to these efforts, a year later she became the best-selling female singer in the world and topped a number of popularity polls, including Melody Maker‘s Best International Vocalist.
Her Nashville recordings created one of the best albums of all time, “Dusty in Memphis” and scored such indelible hits as ‘Son-of-a Preacher Man’ and ‘The Windmills of Your Mind’.
THE ACTIVIST: Dusty Springfield made a small but significant gesture in 1964 when she included an anti-Apartheid clause in her contract to perform in South Africa. In it, she stipulated she would only play for segregated audiences. After performing just two shows for integrated audiences in Cape Town, the white government panicked and put her and her band under house arrest after seizing their passports. After 3 days of questioning and no phone calls and still refusing to abide by regulations, they were forced to cancel their tour and return back to the U.K. Dusty donated all money she made to South African charities. This was 20 years before it trended among other celebrities. And this brought her recognition which set her career ablaze.
A little known story of the struggles for racial equality…..the ripples that take hold, one step at a time and why every step matters. Because of her musical legacy and activism, she is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, inducted in 1999, twelve days before her death from breast cancer.
Here is the video of Elton John’s tribute.
Here’s the video the South Africa Concert.