Entertainment & Arts

Dame Vera Lynn, 97, to release new album

Dame Vera Lynn
Dame Vera Lynn is celebrating her 97th birthday

On the day she turns 97, Dame Vera Lynn has announced plans for a new album.

She is best known for songs including We'll Meet Again and The White Cliffs Of Dover, which buoyed the spirits of millions during World War Two.

Both songs will feature alongside a selection of previously unreleased recordings on Vera Lynn: National Treasure - The Ultimate Collection.

It will be released on 2 June, to mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings, which occurs four days later.

"I think it's wonderful that my songs are still enjoyed, especially if it encourages people to commemorate what happened 70 years ago," said Dame Vera in a statement.

"It's moving for me to relive those days, and humbling to know that people still think of me. After all, it was simply my duty to keep singing."

The collection will bring together more than 40 recordings, some of which were only previously available on 78rpm vinyl.

Record label Decca said the music had been remastered "from the best available recordings", with many tracks transferred "from the original un-played source".

Her previous greatest hits collection, We'll Meet Again, topped the UK album chart in September 2009, making Dame Vera - then 92 - the oldest living artist to score a number one record.

"It was a shock," she told the BBC at the time. "I didn't think I'd still be around, never mind have another number one hit."

Dame Vera Lynn in Showtime
A familiar voice on the radio during World War Two, Dame Vera stepped in front of the cameras for programmes like Vera Lynn Sings and Showtime (pictured)

The following year, she released an album of new material - featuring several songs that had been left on the shelf for 60 years on unmarked discs.

More unreleased material will feature as bonus tracks on the new collection, after being uncovered by her daughter Virginia.

However, the singer has insisted her singing days are "well behind her".

2014 also marks Dame Vera's 90th year in showbusiness, after her making her stage debut at the age of seven.

During the war, she was heard over the airwaves by millions and, although no official figures exist for great swathes of her career, it is estimated she sold just as many records.

According to a recent book, she would have notched up dozens of number one singles before the Official Chart launched in 1952.

The Missing Charts, compiled by the late Colin Brown, examined sales figures from music publishers and record companies to provide detailed listings of the most popular records from 1940 onwards.

His research suggested the very first number one would have been Dame Vera's We'll Meet Again.

When the NME published its first chart in November 1952, she had three entries in the top 10, while US crooner Al Martino held the top spot with Here In My Heart.

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