Rising Stars: Duffy posted on June 6th, 2008
If Amy Winehouse doesn’t get out of rehab soon, she may find that her niche has been dominated by the up-and-coming artist known as Duffy. The Welsh born Aimee Ann Duffy has already taken the UK by storm, and like Winehouse, Leona Lewis, Joss Stone, and Natasha Beddingfield has become part of British Invasion 2.0, an influx of female artists with unique styles who are beginning to dominate American charts. Her debut album, Rockberry (Polydor), debuted in March of ’08 in the UK after her single, ‘Mercy’, shot straight to the leading position in downloaded music sales. By April, ‘Rockferry’ was at the top of the Pan-European Album chart and in May, the single ‘Mercy’ became a staple song on VH1 and a hit on Adult Contemporary radio. It was also featured in television show and movie soundtracks, including ER, Smallville, the season finale of Grey’s Anatomy and Sex and the City: The Movie. On May 10, Duffy released a remix of ‘Mercy’ featuring rap artist The Game. Just three days later, ‘Rockferry’ was released in the US and debuted at number 4. By the end of the week, ‘Mercy’ was at the number 27 position on the Billboard Top 100 and Duffy was on a billboard in Times Square.
Though her success in the US was an inevitable follow to her domination of the UK, Duffy’s past has been anything but predicable. She was raised in Nefyn, on the Llyn Peninsula in North Wales, but moved to Pembrokeshire with her mother and sisters after her parents divorced. Duffy, however, felt closest to her father John; her interest in singing was inspired by his videotape of the 1960’s television rock show “Ready Steady Go!” Duffy began singing at the age of six and carried a notebook with her constantly, in which she scribbled lyrics. Due to the enormity of her voice, she was unable to blend in with her primary school choir and was asked to leave.
In 1998, Duffy was put in a safe house after police uncovered a plot by her stepfather’s ex-wife to hire a hitman to kill her stepfather. After having seen the way alcohol and drugs had influenced her stepfather’s ex-wife, Duffy made a decision to abstain from them. Throughout her teen years, Duffy sang in various local bands and competitions, coming in second on Wawffactor, a Welsh television show similar to American or Pop Idol. Duffy had expected that as a pop star, others would use her talent “as a vehicle for their vision” and not hers, but after she began to lose her passion for singing, she decided at the age 18 to make music for her own personal fulfillment. After graduating from high school and starting college at the University of Chester in England, she took a professor’s advice to “go on the dole, love, and become a singer.” She dropped out of school and took on odd jobs while recording a three song EP in 2004, and playing at various clubs. After being introduced to Rough Trade Records co-owner Jeanette Lee, Duffy moved to London and worked with Suede’s ex-guitarist Bernard Butler, who downloaded tracks by artists like Al Green, Beyonce, Phil Spector and Burt Bacharach onto her iPod to give her an “education in soul.” Together, they co-wrote music and helped create Duffy’s unique retro sound. In 2007, she was contracted to A&M Records.
Duffy soon gained immense popularity in Britain and Wales, performing on BBC2 television and coming in second in the annual BBC News poll known as Sound of 2008, a preview of up-and-coming hit-makers. She embarked on her first major tour, performing in the revered King Tuts venue in Glasgow. Wherever she has gone, she has met rave reviews, including remarks on her “unaffected personality and natural charm.”
With Bernard Butler and his musical partner David McAlmont forming the backbone of her band, Duffy released ‘Rockferry’ in March 3, 2008 on Polydor records. The record earned 2008 MOJO Awards nominations in the categories of Album of the Year, Song of the Year and Breakthrough Act. Her newest single, ‘Warwick Avenue’, hit the charts on June 2, 2008 and debuted at number 3.
At the age of 24, Duffy has already become an international sensation, combining throwbacks to 1960’s soul and jazz with a contemporary edge to appeal to the masses. Her music will resonate with young and old alike, as her voice has been compareded to both Dusty Springfield and Amy Winehouse. Indeed, Duffy’s voice may have been too big for the primary school choir, but the world wants more.
Official Music Video – ‘Mercy’ by Duffy