Cilla Black

Hello. Annie here. Over the past week, I’ve been reflecting on Cilla Black: On what I admire about her, on how I came to be a fan, and on the memories that I connect with her. I’d like to share these thoughts with you, and if you’d like to share yours as comments, that would be a lovely thing.

Cilla Black’s passing has resonated with me much more than is usual for me with people I haven’t personally known. There is an echo of the grief I feel for my mother’s passing. Looking back, I’ve realised that my initial introduction to Cilla Black was by way of my mum’s record collection. Mum was born around the same time as Cilla, and 1960s pop had been a big deal for her. (I’m having a cry again now actually, as I type this!) When I was a teenager, Mum gave me her compilation album of 1960s female singers, and I took to it straight away.

I Know A PlaceAlfie was a standout track. I was awestruck that a voice could be almost speaking one moment and belting the next, masterfully navigating such great dynamics, and all the while with palpable, shifting emotion.

It was only last year though, that I really became of fan of Cilla Black, after I saw the ITV drama, Cilla. I tuned in to soak up the 1960s, but was then swept up by Cilla and Bobby’s love story, and thrilled by Cilla’s passion. The songs on the soundtrack were sung by the show’s star, Sheridan Smith (who revealed herself to be a very impressive singer in her own right) rather than by Cilla, but they gave me a thirst for Cilla’s original recordings.

The more I listen to Cilla Black, the more I appreciate her talent. Her power is perhaps the most readily apparent quality, and it is indeed amazing. It’s her delicateness though, that is compelling for me. That lighter touch draws my ear closer. To sustain a quieter tone takes a lot of craft as well. You need to give the vibration just the right amount of fuel, like you’re maintaining a small flame. Then there’s her warmth and presence. That’s what turned on the waterworks again when I listened to Alfie just now. Her tender, gentle questioning gets right through to my heart. The song provides a house for that emotional charge, of course, but I hear great openness in many of her other song performances as well: Step Inside Love, You’re My World, Anyone Who Had A Heart …I will keep exploring.

The last appearance I saw of Cilla Black was her hosting of Never Mind the Buzzcocks. It was televised on the BBC in December 2011, but I saw it repeated much more recently. Having grown up in Australia, I wasn’t familiar with Cilla’s substantial TV career, but it was clear from this show why people loved her on the googly box. Cilla was so affable and uniquely herself. It was easy to feel at home with her.

I was quite taken aback when I heard of Cilla Black’s passing. She was so vibrant that it seemed she would be around for years and years yet. I am grateful to have heard her voice, and to have shared her with my mum, and to have enjoyed her light.
Thank you, Cilla. xxx

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