The Forces Sweetheart 10 Year Celebration
It’s been a trying year so far for all of us, full of challenges, where we have all had to pull together and be there for one another in this time of need. The music industry has taken a big hit, with artists all over the world, no matter what level, not being able to perform. Not letting this phase her, our Forces Sweetheart, Kirsten Orsborn took the bull by the horns and most certainly gave it a shake, appearing on our screens in our homes, doing the best she possibly could to entertain us all.
But this year also marks her 10 years singing for Armed Forces Day and as a professional singer, and also marks seventeen years in the industry as a performing artist.
Over the weeks during the lockdown here in the UK, Kirsten had been performing a series of regular shows from her home every Monday at 7pm. The response was fantastic over the weeks with 342,000 people tuneing in on a regular basis from all over the world over 20 shows, for what can only be described as an extremely scintillating evening of song, taking us through a great many eras. Kirsten will later continue to perform the odd show once a month due to popular demand, only this time via her YouTube Channel either LIVE or pre-recorded for our pleasure.
Previously, with the 27th June 2020 being Armed Forces Day, the Neath Port Talbot Council South wales, here in the UK asked our Forces Sweetheart to commemorate and celebrate this in the usual manner with a live show from her home, which marked not only her 20th show, but 10 years singing for the cause, where she gave thanks to our amazing veterans and forces charities out there. During the performance, Kirsten also paid a special tribute to her friend, mentor and inspiration, the late, great Dame Vera Lynn, who sadly passed away peacefully on Thursday 18th June 2020 at the age of 103.
Dame Vera Lynn, born in London in 1917, was also remembered for singing We‘ll Meet Again, The White Cliffs Of Dover, There‘ll Always Be An England, I‘ll Be Seeing You, Wishing and If Only I Had Wings, to help raise the spirits during the Blitz of the Second World War, and was a symbol of resilience and hope in her life and career.
Ahead of the 75th anniversary of VE Day in May, Dame Vera Lynn spoke about the bravery and sacrifice that characterised the wartime nation and became the oldest artist to get a top 40 album in the UK, when her greatest hits album re-entered the charts at number 30. One of her best-known songs, We‘ll Meet Again, was referenced by the Queen earlier this year during a speech addressing the UK who are separated from families and friends during the coronavirus lockdown. Since her passing, Kirsten has had a multitude of messages being asked to perform, and has appeared on radio shows across the nation paying tribute to her idol.
As the requests to perform in the usual manner aren’t possible at the moment, Kirsten will carry on in the best way she can, as she has, for many weeks now, performed from home, and I can quite confidently tell you that when we all finally meet again, and the country returns back to normal, Kirsten will be exceptionally busy, honouring a great many engagements countrywide.
Since Dame Vera Lynn’s retirement, our very own Kirsten was officially adopted by The Royal Marines and The Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal, as their Forces Sweetheart for South and West Wales, and is a patron to many, and on many an occasion has walked us down memory lane to pay tribute to this great lady who will always remain in our hearts forever.
“It all first came about when I was contacted to perform at Sunderland Armed Forces Day 10 years ago, I had already performed at some forces events, but I truly fell in love with the entire experience after the Armed Forces Day. I absolutely love knowing that I can do what I love most, singing and entertaining, and it can also support others and help them. So if I can cheer someone up with my music, make them smile or help them to raise funds to support veterans in need then I will forever be happy”.
So I went on to ask where her first armed forces day was held, she replied;
“My first ever performance at an Armed Forces Day event was held in Sunderland. That was where I first found my passion and love for singing for the forces. I met so many inspiring people, I made friends for life, I loved hearing all of the veterans’ stories and that was when I realised doing what I love most, singing on stage could also help others, to bring music to those who need cheering up and to support forces charities”.
I followed this up by asking what Vera Lynn meant to her, she went on to add;
“Vera Lynn meant a lot to me. As an entertainer I have always looked up to her because of her genuine heart and kindness. She always had the passion and love for supporting the forces and that’s something I have had from a young age too. She was a wonderful lady with a true talent, heart of gold and it was an honour to know her and to be following in her footsteps”.
So with that said, I asked Kirsten about the first moment she knew she loved her and her music, she told me;
“I’ve always been a huge fan of hers and always sung her songs from a young age. It was a dream come true when I spoke with her lovely daughter, Virginia over the phone, Vera then kindly sent me a letter and signed photo. She said she was happy to know someone else was supporting the forces the way she had and we kept in touch from then on. When I read her book Keep Smiling Through – My Wartime Story, that was when I felt a deep connection to her. I feel as an entertainer I have a lot in common with her. Everything she has done has inspired me and will continue to throughout my career”.
So now we have lost this great lady, I asked Kirsten what happens next for her, she told me;
“It’s a terribly sad time losing our beloved Dame Vera Lynn, but her memory and music will forever live on. I will always support our heroes in whatever way I possibly can with the inspiration from her. I will continue singing her songs with pride, and I will think of her when I perform throughout my shows and for the troops. She will always be in our hearts. I’m looking forward to getting back to work after lockdown, to travel again for the troops and perform on cruise ships”.
“So much as happened for me since then! After finding that love for helping the heroes, I started recording my own music to donate all the funds raised for forces charities and I’ve never looked back. I’ve continued to do that over the last 10 years. In the last 3 years I have started to travel more. I was being contacted by lots of people asking if I could tour their area to sing for them at different events, this has taken me on tour through Ireland for 4 weeks, Scotland and The Falkland Islands. In each of these tours I have met some amazing people who have become our dear friends and I look forward to visiting them all again in the near future. Of course, lockdown has put everything on hold, but as soon as I can, I will be back on the road travelling, doing what I love most. I’m looking forward to performing more for the troops by flying out to them, that is something I would like to focus on doing over the next few years along with my performances on cruise ships”.
I followed this up by asking Kirsten what she has learnt about herself along the way, she told me;
“What I love about my job is that you never stop learning. I’m always learning so much about myself, what I’m capable of doing and achieving, I’m learning from others, I’m learning more about my voice and the entertainment industry”.
Kirsten went on to add;
“One thing I have learnt over the last few years is just how much I love my job. I would be lost without music. Music brings people together, I’ve always said that music is one of the best therapies, it’s always there for you. I’ve also realised how truly passionate I am about supporting our heroes. The forces are like one big family to me now, they mean so much to me and that love will always continue to grow. I will always do everything I possibly can to support them, to show them how grateful we are for the sacrifices they’ve made for us, our retired veterans and those still on the front line. They will always have my support and I will continue singing for them for as long as I possibly can”.
Being so relentlessly busy, I asked Kirsten what now drives her as an artist
“Throughout lockdown I have been putting on live shows on Facebook every Monday. By doing these shows we have created a group of people that feel like a family, we come together every Monday to chat, laugh, sing, dance and have some fun. The reason why I started doing the shows was because the Coronavirus puts a dark cloud over all of us, people have been out of work, without their families and feeling so alone. So, through these uncertain times I wanted to try to bring a little light and hope to everyone. I wanted to cheer everyone up, hopefully make them smile and give them an hour to forget about the madness and frightening reality of the world for a little while and remind them that they’re not alone. I am so happy I did this because I have received so many messages from those in my regular Monday Family, explaining that though they are having a very difficult time they have Monday nights to look forward to, the music has been cheering them up, making them smile and they feel like they know us as a family personally, even though we haven’t met many in person before. Our Monday nights have brought so many people together from all over the world, many have even been so kind to send me and my family gifts to thank us. I’m speechless from the support and love everyone has shown and I cannot explain how happy it makes me knowing everyone has enjoyed the shows as much as we have. We are one big Orsborn Family. If I have been able to make just one person smile throughout lockdown during my shows, then my job here is done”.
“Throughout lockdown, our veterans have needed us more than ever. Those who are sadly Homeless or suffering with PTSD. Keeping in touch through my Facebook shows has become so important. Many veterans have messaged me explaining that the Monday night shows have kept them going, given them something to look forward to and they don’t feel so alone. That’s why I love my job and will continue to sing and entertain. If I can help, support or make just one single person smile with my performances, then I will forever be happy. I wouldn’t be able to do it without everyone’s incredible support so I want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for your kindness and love. We are one big family together and nothing will change that. Me, my music and my family will always be here for you.
© Stargazer Music Magazine 2020
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