Duffy’s amazing year
Today – as part of our week-long look at Welsh personalities who during 2008 have undergone an astounding rise from obscurity – reporter Catherine Evans profiles Duffy, the singer
ONLY this time last year, a petite blonde 20-something from a tiny North Wales town was standing on the brink of worldwide fame.
And just a few months later, diminutive Aimee Duffy – known simply as Duffy – had stormed into the charts with her updated twist on classic ’60s soul.
Duffy’s mega-hit single Mercy, which later won a Mojo award for Song of the Year, remained at No1 in the UK singles charts for five weeks in the spring.
Her debut album Rockferry sold more than five million copies and reached No1 in the UK album charts.
Meanwhile, music critics compared the 24-year-old Nefyn-born singer to everyone from troubled Amy Winehouse to legends like Dusty Springfield.
She picked up a stunning three nominations at this year’s Grammys, nominated for the highly coveted Best New Artist award, as well as Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for Mercy.
Her debut album Rockferry was also up for the Best Pop Vocal Album award, alongside legendary artists The Eagles and James Taylor.
The year 2008 has been such a whirlwind year of tours and interviews, with success even in notoriously hard-to-break America, that Duffy has hardly had a chance to take it all in.
“I’ve been doing gigs all over the place. To be honest, I don’t even know where I’ve been. As far as I know, I’ve done Italy, France and some festivals here, but one seems the same as another,” she laughed.
Her career was launched when she was taken under the wing of Richard Parfitt of the band 60ft Dolls.
“He started writing songs and I sang them. It meant I was actually doing what I loved to do,” she said.
But it was when she came to London to meet Jeannette Lee of Rough Trade records that everything changed for her.
“Richard had told her about me. I was so nervous,” she said.
“I’d never been to London, but there she was in Portobello Road and she was so warm and lovely. I gave up my course at Chester and then commuted to London from Nefyn. It was a weird time because I was living in the back of beyond with my dad, trying to come up with stuff to show Jeannette.”
She’s come a long way since her beginnings in Nefyn.
“We were pretty poor. I spent most of my time listening to the radio. I love the radio. It’s what unites people.
“I used to practice What Becomes of the Broken Hearted. My twin sister, Katy, thought I was mad. We’re different, me and Katy. She’s dead funny and I’m not. She does things. She learnt to drive and stuff, and I didn’t. I was always keeping my head down, but not because I was studious. It’s because I was concentrating on my music.”
Duffy has turned to music to help her through hard times, such as when her parents broke up and she moved to Pembrokeshire with her mother.
Despite her massive success, she tries to stay as down-to-earth as possible.
“I try not to feel that I’ve changed. I still want to hang out with my friends and have a drink, but I don’t have any time.
“Sometimes it does my head in. But I wouldn’t have it any different. I mean, maybe my mum won’t know what to get me for Christmas because she likes to get me shoes and I keep on being given them, but that’s about it, really.”