Friday, 30 May 2014

Dusty Springfield: No Apartheid

"Her voice wasn't black and it wasn't white." 
Darlene Love about Dusty Springfield

Dusty Springfield (1939-1999), the "White Queen of Soul", born Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O'Brien, was a British musician and member of both the Equity and the Variety Artist Federation (via).

Appearing before segregated audiences in South Africa was acceptable for musicians ... until in 1964, Dusty Springfield insisted on the inclusion of a "No Apartheid" clause into her contract.
"I’ve got a special clause written into the contract which stipulates that I shall play only to non-segregated audiences. That’s my little bit to help the coloured people there. I think I’m the first British artist to do this. Brian Poole & the Tremeloes were supposed to do the same, but I believe that in the end they had to play some segregated concerts. If they force me into anything like that I’ll be on the first plane home.” 
She held her first two concerts for non-segregated audiences, before the third one in Capetown, however, she was taken to the hotel by the police and then deported from South Africa. Vic Bilings, her manager, said:
"The police arrived just before our second show there, took us to the hotel, took our passports and said, ‘We’re going to have to sort out your work permit.’ They came back the next day and said that we could continue, but only if we played to segregated audiences. They gave us twenty-four hours to stay in South Africa, which was tantamount to deportation. It got very nasty. Dusty was very upset, we were scared and marooned in a hotel for three days, not allowed to make calls home to London and surrounded by people who were alien and opposed to us.” (via)

In the 1960s, pop stars were not supposed to have a "public conscience", Africa was not "hip and high up on pop's agenda" and expressing one's opinion could have a negative impact on one's career (via). "Whatever your personal political feelings are, if you become involved in them publicly, you're bound to come out the loser." (via). When Dusty Springfield returned to Britain, fifteen members of the House of Commons signed a motion and by doing so supported her standing up. Springfield donated her fee to black South African charities as she was so "disgusted" she did not "want a penny" of her salary (via). In 1980, the United Nations passed the Resolution 35/206 which supported an official cultural boycott. "There has not always been such widespread support. The history of the boycott ironically has its beginnings in the action of an insecure white convent girl from Hampstead", i.e. Dusty Springfield (via).

Beautiful voice:
- Spooky: watch
- The Look of Love: watch

More Dusty Springfield:
- Beatles Medley (Bacharach, Springfield, Prowse and Mathieu): watch
- Son of a Preacher Man: watch
- Sunny: watch

photos via and via and via and via and via


  1. Oh, wow, I didn't know that!

  2. I got lost in the music clips...

  3. Thanks, by the way :-)

  4. Derek, Karen, Macy and Erin: BIG(!) thanks for your sweet feedback!

  5. Fantastic piece. Thanks for separating the fact from the fiction.