Singer Vera Lynn, voice of hope in wartime Britain, turns 100

Mon Mar 20, 2017 11:27am EDT
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LONDON (Reuters) - Vera Lynn, who entertained British troops during World War Two with songs that captured a longing for home and peace, was honored on her 100th birthday on Monday with her image projected onto the iconic White Cliffs of Dover.

Known as the Forces' Sweetheart, Lynn struck a chord with soldiers fighting overseas and with the public back in Britain with "We'll Meet Again" and other songs that gave voice to many Britons' hopes and fears about the conflict with Nazi Germany.

To mark her birthday, a giant image of her as a young woman was projected in the early hours of Monday from the Dover sea wall onto the White Cliffs, which are a national symbol and the subject of one of her most famous songs.

"I feel so blessed to have reached this milestone and I can’t think of a more meaningful way to mark the occasion," Lynn said in a statement issued by Decca, her record company.

Three days before her birthday, she released "Vera Lynn 100", a new album which includes old favorites set to new orchestral accompaniments.

One of them is the wartime hit "(There'll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover", which looks forward to a future of peace "when the world is free".

It has often been pointed out that bluebirds are not native to Britain, but some have interpreted the lyrics as an allusion to Royal Air Force fighter pilots in their blue uniforms.

With one of her previous albums, a "best of" compilation released in 2009, Lynn became the oldest living artist to have an album reach the number one spot in UK charts. The new album's chart position will be known on Friday.

Lynn, the daughter of a plumber and a dressmaker, started her singing career as a child, performing in working men's clubs. Her first solo record came out when she was 19.   Continued...

A projection wishing singer and war time sweetheart Vera Lynn a happy birthday is projected on to the cliffs at Dover, Britain, March 17, 2017. Picture take March 17, 2017 Decca Records handout via REUTERS