The Secrets Behind British Icon Vera Lynn's Decades of Success

Updated on May 22, 2020
Gary Bourgeault profile image

Gary Bourgeault has owned and managed several businesses and has been a financial adviser. In his spare time, he loves writing about music.

 Vera Lyinn singing to workers at British munitions factory in 1941.
Vera Lyinn singing to workers at British munitions factory in 1941. | Source

The Tremendous Legacy and Longevity of Vera Lynn

Vera Lynn has lived an incredible life, and at 103-years-old as I write, she has had a singing career that has spanned decades, and recently became the oldest person to chart in the top 40 in the UK.

This was the second time she released the album, previously releasing it when she was just a kid of 100, becoming the first centenarian to chart in 2017.

In this article there are included a couple videos of her most well-known hits, including "We'll Meet Again," and "The White Cliffs of Dover."

Most importantly, I want to share what Vera herself said in an interview at the age of 92 (video included below), where she shared a couple of simple secrets that brought her long-term success in her chosen field.

Vera Lynn—(There'll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs Of Dover

Vera Lynn—The Sweetheart of the United Kingdom

Vera Lynn became widely known as The Sweetheart of the United Kingdom, or the shorter version: the Forces' Sweetheart, in response to her visits to British troops during World War II, where she entertained and brought encouragement to them during the extremely difficult conditions they were living under.

The two songs mentioned above were related specifically to their plight, and the soldiers, in the case of "We'll Meet Again," would sing along with her. Later on, when she performed for years after the war, the audiences always joined in and sang along with her.

People of the United Kingdom have never forgotten her support and sacrifice, and those that remember still consider her The Sweetheart of the United Kingdom.

Releasing albums in the latter part of her life has brought a resurgence in her career, while at the same time introducing her to generations that had never heard of her.

Here's the collection that put her on the charts in 2017 and 2020: Centennial (100 Years Celebration) The Very Best Of Box Set.

If you want to find out more about Vera, she wrote an autobiography called Some Sunny Day: My Autobiography. You can grab it here. So you don't get confused, Vera wrote autobiographies at different stages of her life, so you'll find a couple of other ones under different names. The one mentioned above is the last one she wrote.

One interesting thing when watching the interview below is that she was so alert and comprehensive of what was going on around her. She understood and answered the questions very well, and offered up some of the secrets that made her so compelling to her fan base.

While Vera performed from the early age of seven, and not long afterward launched a radio career, it was her singing and entertainment of the British troops during World War II that made her so endearing to the public through the years.

Her personality and ability to make those she interacted with feel they've known her for years, is what earned her the title of The Sweetheart of the United Kingdom. She was what us Americans would identify as 'the girl next door.'

Similar to what Bob Hope did when entertaining of American troops - bringing them a touch of home, Vera brought a sense of Britain to the British troops that were stationed in different countries.

Although she enjoyed a long career after the war, she never forgot the roots of the war and the danger she at times faced as she traveled abroad during that time period.

She has worked for many years with veterans and veteran groups via charities, and at important times has celebrated the anniversary of VE Day with the British people by singing the iconic songs that brought a sense of home and hope to the soldiers. They never forgot her and how she served them.

Singing Arguably Her Most Popular Song: "We'll Meet Again"

The Secret to Her Success

There is a phrase that is used by many successful people that is a huge part of their success, and that is that they learned to 'stick to their knitting.

What that means is they found a specific niche they excelled in, and never deviated from it for the duration of their careers. Those that do so may not reach as large of a fan base as those that attempt to be everything to everybody, but the length of their careers is usually much longer.

In the case of Vera Lynn, that was very true. Her commitment to the music she was made to sing, attracted many fans that felt the same way about it. That's why through many decades she could produce new projects that her fan base would be always ready to buy.

Vera had an ability to connect with her fans in a way that made them feel they were related and connected to her in a unique way. She understood what drove her fans, and she didn't deviate from that over the years, even though she did sing a wide range of music.

Why she could get away with that is because she kept the majority of her songs within certain parameters, even though the music genre may be different. The key parameter she made decisions from were that it needed to have a sense of sentimentality to it.

If you listen to her work, you find a sentimental familiarity with the vast majority of the songs she sang. While some people weren't attracted to her focus, those that were were extremely loyal to her; she never betrayed their loyalty by moving off of her foundational strength.

Interview of Vera Lynn at 92-years-old

Her Method for Choosing a Song to Sing and Perform

Interestingly, Vera had no initial interest in what the tune of a song was. What she would do is read or listen closely to the lyrics of a song first, and if she liked it, from there she would focus on the tune or arrangement, or if one hadn't been made yet, wait for it to be produced.

In other words, her decision was made solely by the lyrics. Once she was satisfied with that, she would be committed to singing and performing the song. It was only a matter of what the accompaniment to the lyrics would be.

She said when she listened to the lyrics, she would determine whether or not they fit her style, and were of the right sentiment. Interestingly, many times she would sing the song and a composer would listen in to get an idea of how to make the music arrangement to fit her and the lyrics.

The point of that is she knew what her strengths were, as well as her audiences' tastes, and she kept true to them through the entirety of her career. That's why when she releases albums even after she turned 100-years-old, she was still able to chart. Very few entertainers have that type of longevity.

Why she did things that way was because she discovered what worked for her, and used that as a filter to decide the music she would sing. Her faithfulness to her style, along with her ability to connect with her fans, were the primary secrets to her long-term success.

Last, using her skills to encourage and entertain the British Forces generated an appreciation and gratitude that remains to this day.

Video Footage and Photos of Vera Lynn Visiting Troops in WWII

Conclusion

It's definitely worth the time to examine the life and career of Vera Lynn, as it's inspirational and a learning experience as to how to achieve success, as well as give back to those that allowed her to live out her dreams.

Also, it's important to note that she did in fact face some danger when she went to these places during World War II, and the experience left an impression on her for the rest of her life, especially concerning the visits she made to wounded soldiers to encourage them in their times of distress.

She lived a life that was the whole package, and it's time well spent to do a little research on her extraordinary life that deserves more attention. Vera Lynn is a role model example for others that desire to successfully serve others and forging an important career.

Again, the key, no matter what you want to do, is to stick to that which you're gifted at, recognize the fan or customer base that will be attracted to your particular skill set, and then work to improve your products and services to serve them well.

In her chosen field, Vera Lynn achieved an excellence that will last long past the time she leaves this world. So can you in the area you choose to follow and serve in. It doesn't only point to the entertainment choice Vera Lynn made.

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