Anne Shelton, OBE (10 November 1923 – 31 July 1994) was a popular English vocalist, who is remembered for providing inspirational songs for soldiers both on radio broadcasts, and in person, at British military bases during the Second World War. Shelton was also the original singer in the United Kingdom of the song "Lili Marlene".
Shelton was born Patricia Jacqueline Sibley on 10 November 1923 in Dulwich, London. She had two sisters, Eileen and Jo, and a brother, Bill. As a girl she attended the local convent in Forest Hill. She and Jo were very close, for Jo was also a singer who made several records. When only 12 she sang 'Let the Curtain Come Down' on the BBC radio evening show Monday Night at Eight. The dance-band leader Albert Ambrose heard her performance, and persuaded her to sing with his prestigious and popular 'Ambrose Orchestra'. Instead of becoming a child evacuee with her friends, Shelton was given a regular spot (still in her school uniform) in Ambrose's radio shows. She continued to work for Ambrose during the war, but also enjoyed considerable success in her own right, and with other major bands. She remained with Ambrose for six years and gained her own solo recording contract in 1943.
In 1944, Shelton was invited to sing with the Glenn Miller Orchestra, and although some of these shows were recorded, none has ever surfaced in its entirety. Miller invited Shelton to stay on with the band and travel to Versailles, France for a series of shows; she had to turn him down because of prior commitments in Britain, and this saved her life, as Miller's aircraft disappeared over the English Channel. Shelton soon performed with another American: Bing Crosby. Crosby and Shelton appeared on the Variety Bandbox radio show together and afterwards played a show together, duetting on the songs "Easter Parade" and "I'll Get By". In 1948 she recorded "If You Ever Fall in Love Again" written by Irish songwriter Dick Farrelly who is best
USA -"Be Mine" and "Galway Bay".
In 1951 Anne went to America for three months, but her tour ultimately lasted for 11 months. She opened at the world's greatest night club New York's Copacabana and played there for four weeks. Her tour took her to Las Vegas, Texas, San Francisco, Hollywood, Chicago, Washington and Philadelphia. She also worked in hundreds of radio and TV stations throughout the country. Anne made lots of friends in the States included Sophie Tucker, Judy Garland, Sammy Davies Jnr. and Johnny Ray. She was asked to stay on but it was getting near Christmas, an occasion Anne had never spent away from her family. So on 23rd December she arrived home.
She also had a Top 10 hit in 1961 with her cover version of "Sailor". In the same year she participated in BBC Television's A Song for Europe contest, the UK qualifying heat for the Eurovision Song Contest. Her entry, "I Will Light a Candle" was placed fourth. Shelton made another attempt at Eurovision in 1963 with "My Continental Love" – and came fourth again. In addition to her hits 'Lay Down Your Arms' and 'Sailor' she also charted with other hits in the late 1950s with 'Seven Days' and 'The Village of St Bernadette'. In 1967 she covered the song, "It Won't Be Long 'Til Christmas" which was originally to be featured in the Walt Disney feature film musical, The Happiest Millionaire but then was deleted from the final cut of the film. Shelton's versions of the song has since been featured on several compilation recordings.
As well as singing and acting in several films, including Miss London Ltd. (1943), King Arthur was a Gentleman, and Bees in Paradise (1943), Shelton appeared in several Royal Variety Performances. On occasion in her career, she was accompanied by her sister, Jo Shelton, also an accomplished and popular singer. There was even an interesting appearance on a 1973 episode of The Benny Hill Show where she sang "Put Your Hand in the Hand", a biblically inspired tune by the group Ocean that was a 1971 hit in the U.S. Shelton changed the words of one verse to describe briefly her father's positive influence on her family when she was growing up.
Although Anne was fondly regarded for entertaining the British Army during World War II she also performed at many reunions and commemorations during the 1970s and 1980s. In 1990 she was awarded the OBE for her work with the "Not Forgotten Association", a charitable organization for disabled former service personnel from all wars. Her husband Lieutenant- Commander David Reid died in the same year.
Anne's last performance was on 27th July 1994 for the Not Forgotten Association at Buckingham Palace. The other artisits included Bobby Crush, Faith Brown, Ray Alan and Frankie Vaughan. Anne died in Herstmonceux, Sussex on 31 July 1994 of a heart attack, and was buried in the family grave at Brenchley Gardens, South East London on 15th August. Following her death, numerous compilation albums were published, including such titles as Early Years: Lili Marlene and At Last: The Very Best. (info edited mainly from www.anne-shelton.co.uk