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Artist Name:
Cilla Black
Cilla Black
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Cilla Black is a phenomenon of truly iconic proportions. Since she debuted on the showbiz circuit in 1963 she’s conquered the mediums of television, comedy and pop! 

As a singer she has released 15 studio albums, in addition to 2 successful Greatest Hits packages and 37 singles, many of which have charted world-wide. Today Cilla is a British institution and regarded as the first lady of television, with countless industry awards & record breaking viewing figures to her name...

Born Priscilla Maria Veronica White, on the 27th May 1943, she grew up in a very musically oriented household in one of the toughest parts of Liverpool. Living with her parents and three brothers she was often encouraged to practice her innate singing talent by performing to the rest of her family.

During her late teens a sheer drive to become famous made her adamant that she would not be labeled as just another girl "suitable for office work". Understandably, she wanted more from life and could regularly be found escaping to the trendy haunts of the Cavern club where she'd hang coats earning five bob an hour. Perfectly placed amongst the up-and-coming stars of the day she wowed them with her singing and confidently convinced the powers that be to let her share the spotlight on stage! She also served coffee at the Zodiac (Duke Street) another clubbers' haven, where, incidentally, she met her husband to be, Bobby Willis.

Thanks to a lot of support from her friends she quickly became a mini-celebrity in her own neighbourhood, performing alongside so many legendary acts that were fundamental in establishing the Mersey Sound, such as The Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Fourmost and Rory Storm and the Hurricanes.

Then, due to a twist of fate, Priscilla, known to friends as Cilla, almost overnight received a new stage name, when the music paper the "Mersey Beat" misprinted it. So, as if by magic, she became Cilla Black, a name that she favoured and happily kept.

It wasn't long until Cilla came to the attention of Brian Epstein, a local talent scout and manager of The Beatles. Epstein was introduced to her by none other than John Lennon, who persuaded him to arrange an audition at The Majestic Ballroom in Birkenhead. Unfortunately, the combination of nerves and singing to The Beatles, who played in their key, made the audition a flop. No matter, all was not lost, as to her surprise she was later spotted by Epstein while singing "Bye, Bye Blackbird" in the jazzy surroundings of the Blue Angel club. This performance finally convinced him to sign her, so on the 6th September 1963, she became his only female vocalist!

There was an immediate bond between Cilla and Epstein. From the moment he met his starlet he wanted to nurture the 'Judy Garland' qualities he believed she possessed, having high aspirations of creating a British icon who, in his prophetic words, would be " of the biggest stars in this country for thirty or forty years". His faith, combined with Cilla's talent, effortlessly convinced George Martin, the renowned producer of Matt Monro, Shirley Bassey and The Beatles, that she was worthy of signing to Parlophone Records (a subsidiary label of the EMI Group).

Shortly afterwards, Cilla Black made her debut on the British singles charts with one of the first of many songs given to her by her peers John Lennon and Paul McCartney. "Love of the Loved", a song she'd often heard The Beatles perform at the Cavern, made a modest impression on the British charts when it was released on the 27th September 1963.

This was soon to be overshadowed by her next release, which Epstein discovered on a trip to the USA. "Anyone Who Had a Heart", a song by Burt Bacharach, had already proved to be a massive hit for Dionne Warwick which Cilla, as a keen follower of the US Top 100, had already admired prior to it being suggested. Her knockout rendition recorded in January 1964 went on to become not only her first #1 but still, to this day, the biggest selling single of all time by a British female recording artist.

As luck would have it, George Martin then acquired the perfect follow up, an Italian ballad, "Il Mio Mondo", which he had translated - becoming, "You're My World". This epic "torch" song went on to become her second #1, paving the way for an influx of other Italian songs such as Dusty Springfield's "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me". Furthermore, it broke her into the tough US market as well as gaining her massive support across Europe and Australasia, culminating in hundreds of sell-out concert dates throughout her time at EMI (1963-78).

During the sixties Cilla managed to sustain her place at the forefront of the Brit-Pop music scene, with one of the most impressive starts for a British female recording artist, including 20 consecutive Top 40 triumphs on the singles and EP charts. To place this unprecedented success into perspective, it happened during a decade when achieving a Top 20 single meant that you had to sell 100,000 copies a day in the UK alone!

By August 1967, only days before his premature death, Epstein had engineered Cilla's switch to television. It proved to be a shrewd move as, through her own variety show for the BBC, she regularly commanded a staggering audience of 22 million. This popularity, as many people will know, has continued over subsequent decades, with countless shows, industry awards and record breaking viewing figures to her name.

The Cilla Black of today, although having focused more in recent years on phenomenally successful television shows like "Surprise!, Surprise!" and "Blind Date" has still gone on record to say that she ultimately wishes to be remembered for her singing. The release therefore of the EMI hits compilation "The Best of 1963-78" during her landmark 40th year (2015) in show business and her subsequent resigning to the label to record her 15th studio album "Beginnings" is testament to that musical legacy which she is so proud.

Discover the world of Cilla Black by picking up a copy of her new & revealing autobiography "What's It All About?" which is out now.

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