Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
(b 29 March '35, Belfast; d 17 Dec. '96) Pop singer. Began at age 12 on Irish TV, went to London in a revue and was signed to EMI Columbia by Ray Martin, and was the first artist ever to have five records simultaneously in the UK top 20 early '55: the feat has only been equalled since by Elvis Presley and Madonna. She had a good voice, slightly husky, power in reserve and easy phrasing; her no. 1 "Softly Softly' was typical of pre-rock pop in its wistful innocence. She played in shows and revues incl. Painting The Town '55 at the Palladium, films incl. a believable singing chambermaid in comedy A Touch Of The Sun '56. She had many fans in the USA and Frank Sinatra, always generous to artists he admired, said he was her greatest fan. Her last hit was "Change Your Mind' '70; she helped celebrate Forty Years Of Peace on stage '85 for a prolonged ovation. She battled with a life-long drinking problem and died of liver cancer.