Duffy is to make an appearance at Ireland's Electric Picnic this summer.
Duffy is set to play the Main Stage on Saturday 30th August at 6.30pm.
Click here to visit Electric Picnic's website for more details and to get your tickets now.
Duffy is to make an appearance at Ireland's Electric Picnic this summer.
Duffy is set to play the Main Stage on Saturday 30th August at 6.30pm.
Click here to visit Electric Picnic's website for more details and to get your tickets now.
Living in a small Welsh town where a trip to the nearest record shop requires two bus rides doesn't bode well for one's musical education. "I didn't know Aretha Franklin existed until I was almost nineteen!" says Duffy, 23, who came across "Respect" while recording her debut album.
Her producer, ex-Suede guitarist Bernard Butler, stocked her iPod with tunes by the likes of Franklin, Al Green, Otis Redding and Dusty Springfield. "He'd do this teasing thing where he'd only give me one or two songs from each act," says Duffy, who studied the music during the six-hour commute from Butler's London studio to her home in the coastal village of Nefyn. "I'd have to go out and buy the rest myself."
The homework paid off: Duffy (she shed her first name, Aimee, six years ago) is racking up comparisons to vintage R&B icons — and not just for her peroxide bouffant and Sixties-glam-girl wardrobe. Rockferry (out May 13th) nods toward classic Stax and Motown with finger-snapping shuffles, gossamer strings and, of course, Duffy's prematurely rich and husky voice — which, ironically, didn't earn her a place in the school choir. "I gave up many of my lunch hours to audition," she laments. "I obviously wasn't adequate for the job."
Her songwriting chops, which she honed during after-school shifts at the local garage, came easier. "All day I'd be pumping gas and dying for a cigarette, but I couldn't smoke because I'd set the place on fire," she says. "It was really boring, but it was a good time for me, sitting there writing."
Teenage ennui, however, pushed Duffy to escape Wales. At sixteen, she embarked on a six-week soul-searching mission to Switzerland (she picked the country at random). "I wanted to be extreme, so I packed my bags and went," she says. By the time Duffy returned to attend college, she had a cache of songs written abroad, but she was nearly broke.Considering welfare, Duffy was scouted by Waw Ffactor, Wales' American Idol-style competition. Snagging the runner-up spot, she soon found herself working as an unsatisfied backup singer. "I was just a voice — there wasn't room for me artistically," she says. "I was at the point of retiring with that hunger.
Quitting became a nonoption when one of Duffy's demos landed on the desk of veteran music exec Jeannette Lee, who signed on as Duffy's manager and sent her into the studio with Butler. From there, Duffy says, "I cut away all the bullshit and started writing."
Four years later, Duffy emerged with her debut LP, which is already a smash in Britain. The lead single, "Mercy" — marked by a "Chain of Fools"-reminiscent vamp and insistent girl-group "yeah yeahs" — spent four weeks on top of the U.K. singles chart. Duffy was in a car in Paris when she heard it on the radio for the first time. "The driver started beeping the horn and doing swerves down the street," she recalls. "I could've passed out."Unlike fellow U.K. soul bird Amy Winehouse, Duffy says her tales of love gone bad are not based on real-life heartache. "I don't think I've ever been in love," admits Duffy, who sings about boarding a midnight train to the riverside town of Rock Ferry (near Liverpool) with "a bag of songs and a heavy heart" on the title track. She penned the song after glimpsing the city from a train window. "I've never even been there," she adds, "it's embarrassing."
Duffy was filming the video for her new single Warwick Avenue in London yesterday.
So I'm guessing that's why the super-talented songstress, 23, wore such ridiculous knee-high socks and an old granny's house coat.
She completed the unflattering look by chain-smoking between takes.
Let's hope she gets it together before her summer festival tour, which starts with Glastonbury in June.
Add the Motown-style arrangement and lyrics about tortured love, and this year's biggest-selling artist could easily be mistaken for the legendary Dusty Springfield.
But the No 1 hit song Mercy comes from the lips of Duffy, a 23-year-old former shop worker from Wales.
In a matter of months, she has eclipsed Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen to become Britain's most popular solo female star.
Her debut album, Rockferry, has been at the top of the charts for the past month, while the single Mercy, based on her relationship with music producer Mark Durston, was No 1 for five weeks.
Duffy has already performed three times on the hugely influential TV show Later. . . With Jools Holland and she will be one of the headline acts at this summer's V Festival.
Duffy's music manages to appeal both to the internet generation - she has 21,753 friends on social networking site MySpace - and older people who grew up listening to Motown and soul music from the Sixties.
In doing so, she has placed herself at the front of an astonishing wave of talented young British singers who have taken black American music, made it their own - and become international stars in the process.
From Amy Winehouse to Adele, Joss Stone and Leona Lewis - who last week became the first British female solo artist to reach No 1 in America since Kim Wilde in 1987 - one of the secrets of these artists' success is how much their music sounds like the divas of the Sixties and Seventies.
"One thing that unites all of these girls today is the inspiration of earlier styles of black American music," says veteran radio DJ Paul Gambaccini.
"It's a phenomenon that dates back to the Sixties and The Beatles and Rolling Stones."
So far this year, Duffy is in a league of her own. Although she has yet to break America, she is outselling Leona Lewis in the British album and download charts.
But despite her cool image and artless manner, Duffy has not exploded on to the scene from nowhere, as her handlers would have us believe.
And while she may not have been overtly manufactured, she has been carefully groomed for stardom by the co-founder of the record label Rough Trade and the public relations company that looks after Madonna, Elton John and James Blunt.
Both have ruthlessly protected her image, dropping her first name Aimee - to distance her from the more notorious Amy Winehouse - and glossing over previous appearances on a reality TV series.
They have even ordered Aimee's friends and family not to speak publicly about her.
Now The Mail on Sunday has uncovered the real story of Duffy's background.
It's an extraordinary tale encompassing infidelity, a custody battle and a bizarre murder plot.
But what is even more surprising is how fate seems to have decreed that everything in Duffy's life - from her troubled family to her powerful voice - should echo the lives of so many of her peers and the stars who inspired them.
Aimee Ann Duffy was born on June 23, 1984, and grew up in the tiny coastal village of Nefyn, North Wales - population 2,550.
Welsh was her first language - she barely spoke a word of English.
Her mother Joyce, who worked in a factory, had married at 19 to Allan Evans, a young storeman who lived in the nearby town of Colwyn Bay.
But within a few years their relationship disintegrated.
Joyce moved back to Nefyn to work as a hotel waitress and soon caught the eye of the hotel's interim manager, John Duffy.
They married in March 1977 and settled down to domestic life in the village.
"People tell me she was a bit of heartbreaker," Duffy has said of her mother.
"Great figure, really good dresser, always wore pearls. A dolly bird."
This striking image of her mother, echoing stars such as Dusty Springfield and Diana Ross, clearly stayed with Duffy, who would later sport a beehive hairdo and miniskirt of her own.
Within three years, Joyce and John had a daughter Kelly, now 28. Aimee and her twin sister Katy were born four years later.
Duffy says Nefyn was an idyllic place to grow up: "It was amazing. It was safe, friendly - you could stay out all hours, playing on the beach.
"The only downside is that I didn't grow up very worldly."
She wanted to be a singer from an early age.
By the age of seven she had been kicked out of her school choir for being "too rough around the edges", so she contented herself with honing her talents in a less salubrious setting - the school lavatories.
"My voice was too big. I didn't fit into a team of vocals and there was nowhere else I could practise singing," she says.
But with no record collection of her own, and with the nearest record shop a bus ride away, her early interest in music was inspired by her father's videotape of Sixties TV show Ready Steady Go!
"I remember the first time I saw Mick Jagger, I thought, 'He's cool.'
"The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Walker Brothers, Sandie Shaw and Millie singing My Boy Lollipop - I thought it was the sexiest, most exciting thing ever, and I played the tape again and again until it disintegrated."
Joss Stone and Amy Winehouse were also heavily influenced by their parents' taste in music from the Sixties. Joss, from Devon, shared the isolated background that allowed the youngsters to ignore the latest pop-music trends.
However in 1993, Duffy's idyll was shattered by the breakdown of her parents' marriage.
"Because they ran a pub, my mum and dad would do alternate shifts," she recalled.
"We rarely saw them together but we had a great relationship with them both.
"The pub was really a smoky, working men's club with leather seats and a snooker table, but I felt proud my parents ran it.
"They tried to separate when I was six but I cried so much that they stayed together.
"That was very cruel of me, really, but my mum is a lovely woman and she didn't want to hurt us.
"They finally separated when I was nine. As kids, we weren't really aware of the emotional side of it but I guess there was quite an upheaval.
"I'm not someone who takes the scars with me. It happened and I've learned how to live with it.
"Of course, it was a big thing in the town at the time - everybody talking about it - but I think my mum did the right thing in leaving. I remember my dad being very upset."
It was an awful time for Duffy, but those experiences helped to shape her music, just as troubled lives helped shape the work of some of the great black American singing stars.
It is unclear when Joyce rekindled her relationship with former childhood sweetheart Philip Smith.
They had known each other in their youth but Joyce's mother had disapproved of their friendship and Philip later left the area.
Now an agricultural merchant, he had moved back to the nearby village of Morfa Nefyn from his home in Letterstone, Pembrokeshire, to renovate his father's bungalow.
His 18-year marriage to a former waitress, Dawn, was on the rocks amid allegations of infidelity on both sides.
Joyce was smitten. Within a month of Philip's acrimonious divorce in September 1994, she had moved with her three children to Letterstone, an English-speaking area, which proved something of a culture shock for Duffy, with her limited knowledge of the language.
After a bitter battle, Philip was eventually given custody of his own four children in June 1995.
Philip and Joyce married at Haverfordwest register office in April 1996, setting up home with their combined family of seven children.
Duffy was only 12, but her favourite singers were Ella Fitzgerald and Etta James, and she was already modelling her singing style on their distinctive sound.
However, within a year the family's peace had been shattered.
They were given police protection and bundled into a safe house after Dawn offered £3,000 to a man called Robert Rees to kill Philip.
Duffy's mother gave evidence in court for the prosecution.
During the trial in 1998 at Cardiff Crown Court, Philip claimed that Dawn concocted the murder plot after receiving a demand from the Child Support Agency to provide maintenance for their children.
Dawn had been given a piece of land as part of the couple's divorce settlement, but when she later decided to sell it for more than £30,000, Philip wanted the children to be awarded some of the profits.
The court heard that Dawn asked Rees: "Do you fancy doing a job for me? I want you to kill Phil.
"I've got a new Mercedes and it's really cool. But he's trying to muck everything up and take it all away from me.
"I want you to shoot him."
Rees went straight to the police, who arrested Dawn and her new husband, Marc Watson.
Dawn was eventually convicted of soliciting to murder and sentenced to three and a half years in June 1998.
Watson, an organic chemist whom she married in October 1994, was cleared of the charge.
Alcoholic Dawn died in 2002, 18 months after she was released from jail, when she choked on a roast pork dinner. She was 45.
"Dawn had agreed to pay about £3,000 to a local man, Robert Rees, to shoot me dead," Philip, now a 54-year-old director of Pembrokeshire Paints and Coatings, said at the time.
"She had told him to 'just blow his head off'. But thankfully, he went straight to the police.
"We were taken to a safe house under police guard for the rest of the night until the police arrested Dawn and her husband.
"I felt so ill. I was in shock. I couldn't absorb the news and I was very frightened.
"Deep down I was terrified that Dawn might have hired someone else to finish off the job.
"Even when we were in the safe house I didn't sleep a wink - I jumped at every noise and I longed for daylight."
It was against this traumatic backdrop that Duffy did her GCSEs.
After she left school, she returned to Nefyn, where she helped her father John at the social club he manages.
She still hankered after a career as a singer - and now she had the perfect environment to hone her skills.
She spent hours singing on a karaoke machine, making tapes and posting them to record companies in the hope she would be discovered.
In the tradition of Motown stars, she formed a series of bands and worked for virtually nothing as she learned her trade.
She had also inherited her mother's talent for attracting men.
"I was such a terror," Duffy admitted. "When you're young and you're female and you have a band, you have like five boyfriends in that band.
"But I'd have about five bands going on, and each band wouldn't know about the other.
"I knew none of them would work out but I would keep them on the go for enjoyment's sake."
She later went to college in Dolgellau, North Wales, where she studied for her A-levels, met long-term boyfriend Mark Durston and was elected president of the students' union.
Her close friend Heidi Williams, 24, who works in a local Spar shop, witnessed her burgeoning career and the toll it would take on Duffy's relationship with Durston.
"Aimee used to spend all her spare time sat at a big wooden table in the kitchen writing her songs, then she would perform them for us in the evening," she said.
"she put her heart and soul into her music and the result was awesome.
"Mark was Aimee's first love and the inspiration for so many of her songs. She was completely in love with the guy and believed they'd always be together.
"But by the time Aimee was in her early 20s, things were starting to happen for her and she had to put more and more of her energy into launching her career, and I think they perhaps started to grow apart.
"But they're still friends and I think they're still in touch."
When she was 19, Duffy auditioned for Wawffactor, the Welsh version of X Factor, but was narrowly beaten by winner Lisa Pedrig.
Leona Lewis, who is now her arch-rival, found fame with the English version of the hit TV show.
Duffy went on to study at Chester University, singing hits from the Sixties and Seventies at the local jazz and blues club Alexander's in her spare time.
She left university in the middle of the course after a tutor advised her to pursue her music dream.
She returned to Nefyn and was working in a ladies' clothing store in Pwllheli when she got her lucky break after a chance meeting with two former musicians.
They introduced her to Jeanette Lee and Geoff Travis, founder of Rough Trade Records, a label whose acts include The Strokes and Arcade Fire.
In turn, Jeanette introduced Duffy to Suede's ex-guitar player Bernard Butler.
It was a partnership very similar to that of Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson - she provided the lyrics and big voice, he the chords and arrangement skills.
The result was Rockferry, the song after which her album is named.
The album's fusion of soul and R&B was a massive hit - particularly with younger fans who thought Duffy, along with Amy, Joss and the others, had found a new source of inspiration for great music.
Some fans even assumed Duffy must be black and from the American Deep South.
But to music insiders, the trend of white British singers adopting the styles of black American music is nothing new.
Even some of the most successful British bands started out in the belief that imitation was the sincerest form of flattery.
The most famous examples are The Beatles and the Rolling Stones, who were heavily influenced by the early rhythm and blues of black musicians such as Chuck Berry.
And they were not alone. Paul Gambaccini points out: "David Bowie did an R&B tour and the riff from his song Fame is straight out of James Brown.
"And Bryan Ferry looked back in a similar way with These Foolish Things, even as far as the jazz era."
But one mystery remains: why is the revival of traditional soul being led by a gang of young British girls?
Gambaccini believes it is partly due to the fact that the American radio scene is far more fragmented than than it is in Britain.
"It has become more defined since the deregulation of radio, which started in the early years of the Reagan administration," he says.
"In the Sixties, the most that a channel owner had was eight stations, but now a couple of owners have more than 100 and in the early years of this Bush administration Clear Channel Radio had 1,400."
This has resulted in many radio stations playing specific genres rather than a wide range of music styles.
In other words, young people in America don't get to hear as many of the classic hits as their British counterparts.
There is, however, a somewhat more cynical way of looking at Duffy's success.
Peter Robinson, editor of music website popjustice.com, said: "The songs are great and she has a brilliant voice but in terms of marketing, Duffy's had a very good job done on her.
"She has been put together with certain producers and songwriters to create a certain sound and had pictures taken of her that reinforce the sound.
"She has the same public relations people as Madonna and we hear all about how she's from Wales, but we don't hear about how she was on the Welsh version of X Factor and how she's been in development for the past three or four years.
"Amy Winehouse has had a massive success with her album Back To Black. When one artist is successful at something in particular, all record labels - sometimes even the same one that has the original artist - want to cash in.
"And if two million people love a particular album, they'll also want to hear something similar. It's what helps build genres."
Record promoter Allan James, who helped launch Kim Wilde's career, says: "It all started with Norah Jones, whose debut album was released in 2003. It just took off and made the record companies reassess their views of jazz and blues.
"Instead of thinking it was all in the past, they started producing records and developing artists that had crossover appeal.
"So along came Jamie Cullum and Michael Buble and a whole host of female artists such as Joss Stone, Katie Melua, Amy Winehouse, Adele and now Duffy.
"Much of what they do harks back to something from the past, which some of the older record buyers may remember as children.
"These female artists are making sophisticated pop music and, rather than being manufactured, they are being developed as acts.
"They all have talent but time and money is being spent on them. For instance, Adele and Duffy both signed record contracts well before their albums were released."
While Leona Lewis celebrates her remarkable success in America, it seems only a matter of time before Duffy attempts to make a similar breakthrough.
And when she does, the white girl from Wales will give the Americans an inspiring lesson on their black musical heritage.
Duffy with Kylie at Later with Jools Holland performance:
The Welsh warbler likes to shun the luxuries her fame brings and is going to rough it with the rest of the festival goers at Glasto.
She said: “They have booked a posh hotel for me. But out of principle, I’m only going to go there to wash my lady bits.”
DUFFY has revealed the secret behind her phenomenal chart success – sexual frustration.
|MTV, VH1 GO ALL OUT FOR DUFFY|
| Networks’ Unprecedented Collaboration Aims to Bust U.K. Singer Wide Open |
March 25, 2008
MTV and VH1 are joining forces for Duffy.
Credit the former's Amy Doyle and the latter's Rick Krim for spotting a winner when they see one.
The two networks are pulling out the stops for the May 13 U.S. album launch of the U.K. singer’s Rockferry on David Massey’s resurrected Mercury label through L.A. Reid’s IDJ.
The video for the single “Mercy” will make its debut exclusively on VH1.com, VH1Soul.com and MTV.com tomorrow (3/26), starting at 10 a.m. ET. MTV Hits and mtvU will also premiere the video throughout the day. “Mercy” will then debut on VH1’s Top 20 Video Countdown, Saturday (3/29).
In addition, fans visiting VH1.com or MTV.com can access news and interviews, music, photos and the video for “Mercy.” Beginning in April, Duffy will be named an MTV “Discover & Download” artist and a VH1 “You Oughta Know” artist. Recent artists at “Discover & Download” include Tokio Hotel, Leona Lewis, All Time Low and We the Kings. The VH1 “You Oughta Know” franchise has helped break artists such as James Blunt, Amy Winehouse, The Fray, KT Tunstall and Corinne Bailey Rae and has proven to have an impact on their record sales. Current YOK artists include Leona Lewis, Ingrid Michaelson and Sara Bareilles.
Duffy will also have a focused role in two inaugural VH1 on-air promo campaigns. “On The Road With” is VH1’s new sponsored promo campaign that focuses on one artist on tour. Running from April 14 to June 22, VH1 will roll out three separate 30-second vignettes that take viewers behind-the-scenes with Duffy to reveal life on the road.
Throughout the month of May, Duffy will take part in VH1’s “Listen & Discuss” campaign, designed to engage the audience with a designated artist through a multi-faceted blitz of on-air interstitials and promos. The final promo campaign will begin in June where Duffy will be featured in the “Celebreality Spin” promo. 30-second and 20-second promos featuring her album artwork and a fully chyroned video will appear once an hour inside all Celebreality programming throughout the week.
The 23-year old Duffy was born and raised in the tiny Welsh village of Nefyn, with a sound that has been compared to vintage Stax and Motown. She was signed by Jeanette Lee, noted founder and partner of the Rough Trade record label and management company, who encouraged Duffy to write her own material, put her in the studio with like-minded co-writers/producers, and signed her to A&M/Polydor UK. She was inked here in the States to Massey’s Mercury label.
Rockferry was recorded in England with ex-Suede guitarist turned record producer Bernard Butler, Jimmy Hogarth and Steve Booker. Butler called Duffy “someone who acts and sings utterly unselfconsciously and from the heart, a most rare and magical thing.”
Die walisische Sängerin Duffy nimmt die Charts im Sturm
Von Michael TschernekDiese Grübchen! Wer zurzeit durch London spaziert, hat viele Gelegenheiten Duffys süsse Grübchen zu studieren. Die hübsche Waliserin blickt von allen Plakatwänden. «Als ich ein Kind war, sagte meine Mutter, man könne darin Kartoffeln verstecken», erzählt die 23-jährige Sängerin. Duffy ist die Popsensation des Frühlings 2008.
Ihr Debütalbum «Rockferry» ist in Grossbritannien auf Platz eins der Charts eingestiegen, ihre Single «Mercy» führt die Single-Hitliste seit geraumer Zeit an. Duffys Retro-Songs zwischen Soul, Gospel, Jazz und Pop schallen aus jedem zweiten Londoner Ladenlokal. «Baby, baby, baby, spend your time on me» - Duffys Stimme, die an Dusty Springfield erinnert, überquillt vor Emotionen und Dramatik. Man geht fast auf die Knie.
Erste Erfolge mit walisischen Songs sind ihr heute peinlich
Die Schweizer Plattenfirma hat die Veröffentlichung nun sogar um drei Wochen vorgezogen. So viel versprechend ist der Hype um die blonde Sängerin, deren Aufstieg an Amy Winehouse erinnert. Wobei man sich Duffy als Amy minus deren skandalträchtige Aura vorstellen muss. Drogen findet sie nämlich uncool. «Cool ist für mich etwas anderes. Zudem brauche ich nur ein Glas Wein zu trinken und schon verliere ich die Übersicht: Welchen Tag haben wir denn heute?»
Duffy, die mit vollem Namen Aimee Anne Duffy heisst, stammt aus Nefyn, einer kleinen Gemeinde an der Küste von Nordwales. Der Ort gehört zu dem Teil von Wales, in dem noch überwiegend Walisisch gesprochen wird. Englisch ist eine Fremdsprache. «Nach der Scheidung meiner Eltern zog meine Mutter mit mir und meinen Geschwistern nach Fishguard in Pembrokeshire, der südwestlichsten Grafschaft von Wales», erzählt Duffy, «dort wird der ganze Unterricht auf Englisch abgehalten. Das war eine gewaltige Umstellung für mich.»
Fünf Jahre später zog sie zurück zu ihrem Vater nach Nefyn, trat in walisischen Clubs und im walisischen Fernsehen auf und veröffentlichte eine Platte mit walisischen Songs. Diese Veröffentlichungen werden in ihrer offiziellen Biografie geflissentlich unterschlagen. «Ich habe mehrere Leichen im Keller», gesteht Duffy. «Ich war noch auf der Suche nach meinem Weg und habe diese Sachen auch nicht geliebt.»
Dabei war sie zumindest mit den walisischen Songs sehr erfolgreich. «Ich hatte Glück und wurde von vielen Leuten unterstützt. Aber bei den Soulnummern, die ich heute singe, passt die walisische Sprache nicht so gut. Soul ist sanft und funktioniert einfach besser mit englischen Texten.»
Natürlicher als andere Heldinnen dieser Tage
Schliesslich wird Jeanette Lee, eine der Miteigentümerinnen der legendären britischen Plattenfirma Rough Trade, auf Duffy aufmerksam. Lee übernimmt Duffys Management, räumt der Entwicklung der Künstlerin aber viel Zeit ein und schirmt sie von der Presse ab. «Ich lebte allein in einem kleinen Cottage in Wales. In dieser Zeit habe ich viel Musik gehört und viele grosse Soul- und Gospelsängerinnen wie Millie Jackson, Bettye Swann und Candi Staton erst entdeckt», erzählt Duffy.
Erst vor anderthalb Jahren zog sie nach London. Und schon geht der Hype los. Neben den vielen britischen Sängerinnen, die seit geraumer Zeit die UK-Charts beherrschen - Amy Winehouse, KT Tunstall, Lily Allen, Kate Nash, Amy Macdonald und Adele - überzeugt Duffy vor allem durch ihre natürliche Ausstrahlung. Da erweist sich ihre Kindheit im abgeschiedenen Wales als grosser Vorteil. Ebenso wie ihre Grübchen.