How small town Wales gave Duffy a bond with Elvis
Oct 25 2010 by Ciaran Jones, Western Mail (WALESONLINE)
THE musical traditions of small Welsh towns like Nefyn on the Lln Peninsula are very different to the American gospel music and rhythm and blues from which soul music emerged.
Yet award-winning singer Duffy, who was raised in the Gwynedd town, has said that the “disillusion and yearning” she grew up with helped her tap into the same emotions that inspired soul musicians from Ray Charles to Otis Redding, and Elvis Presley,
The 26-year-old star, whose debut CD Rockferry was the largest selling album in Britain in 2008, said the spirit behind the music was the most important thing.
“Soul is all about yearning, about wanting something you can’t find,” she said.
“Elvis, Patsy Cline, Otis Redding – longings for something beyond that which can be achieved in life at that time.
“I had a lovely childhood but, well – Wales. Small town in Wales. You yearn.”
Speaking about her new album, Endlessly, due for release next month, she said she often felt attracted to the unconventional when she was growing up, initially in Gwynedd and later in Pembrokeshire.
She said: “One time I do think about, a bit, is when I was about seven, and my sisters and I had been taken out with my mum. We’d left Nefyn and mum was off to play squash with Auntie Joan and we were all – Katy [the singer’s twin] and Kelly [her older sister] and me – given a fiver.
“The other two went off to the arcade while I sat in a tea shop and ordered tea and a scone. I was still there, thinking, swinging my legs, when Mum and Joan came back from squash, probably a little surprised. As I say, always that bit out of step.”
She added: “Whenever I was listening to stuff on the radio when I was young, it was so often ’50s and ’60s stuff which made me happy. It’s the offbeat.”
Duffy was catapulted to fame after her debut album sold more than six million copies.
Duffy – born Aimée Ann Duffy – recently made her first film appearance, taking a role as a student in Patagonia, a film with Matthew Rhys.
She said it was “happenstance” that saw her take the part.
“I opened it, adored the script, read it in one,” she said. “I loved the process, loved the filming. I’ve spent years travelling and living out of suitcases, so to sit down for a few weeks – in the same place – and unpack the bags, and have all these people stay in the same place together for weeks, it felt incredibly stable.”
Duffy said while she still felt connected to the young girl in the tea shop she also thought she had moved on: “I’m still her and she’s still me, but she and I have become lifetimes apart.”