6 chart-topping singers from Hertfordshire and surrounding villages
- Credit: Picture: KEVIN RICHARDS
A number of chart-topping singers call Hertfordshire home. Here are six famous singers with links to the county (and slightly further afield).
1. James Bay
The Fedora-hat wearing singer-songwriter from Hitchin hit the big time with single Hold Back The River in 2014 from multi-million-selling number one debut album Chaos and The Calm.
James Bay subsequently bagged three Grammy Award nominations and won a BRIT Award in 2016 as best British Male Solo Artist.
After ditching the hat for a new look, the former Hitchin Boys’ School pupil’s second album Electric Light, featuring singles Wild Love and Pink Lemonade, came out in May 2018.
He released single Chew on My Heart last year and also performed a live-stream gig at Shakespeare's Globe, with musician brother Alex Francis joining him on stage as part of his band.
2. George Ezra
The Shotgun singer-songwriter may have hit the big time with 2014 single Budapest but George Ezra is originally from Hertford.
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The Paradise star headlined Hertfordshire festival Standon Calling in 2018, and will be playing a huge show at Finsbury Park on Sunday, July 17, 2022, with tickets going on sale this week.
George Ezra won’t be 'riding shotgun' either after passing his driving test in St Albans.
His brother is singer-songwriter Ten Tonnes.
3. Sam Smith
You wouldn't expect an Oscar-winning global pop star to help a village celebrate the reopening of its restored windmill.
But singer Sam Smith did just that in 2019. Sam returned to Great Chishill, the South Cambridgeshire village just across the county border from Royston, Hertfordshire.
In an Instagram post at the time Sam wrote: "Made me so emotional to be back at home with my family and friends."
Sam Smith grew up in the village, and lived at The Pink House in Heydon Road. The singer also attended school in Bishop's Stortford, Herts.
As well as topping the UK charts with singles Money on My Mind and Stay with Me from debut 2014 studio album In the Lonely Hour, Sam Smith also sang the Spectre theme song Writing's on the Wall.
It became the first James Bond movie theme to reach number one in the UK, and won both a Golden Globe Award and an Oscar.
4. Victoria Beckham
Now a fashion designer, the mum of four was just Wannabe pop star Victoria Adams when she grew up in Goffs Oak, Hertfordshire, before finding fame as Posh Spice in the Spice Girls.
As well as her nine UK number one hits with the Spice Girls, she also reached number two in the charts with Out of Your Mind alongside True Steppers and Dane Bowers.
Along the way she married Manchester United and England footballer David Beckham.
Victoria said performing at the London 2012 Olympics was “one of her proudest moments” with the Spice Girls as she reminisced last month about the performance ahead of the opening of the Tokyo Games.
5. Kim Wilde
Set to play Codicote's Goatfest this weekend, the Kids in America star lives not far from the festival site in Hertfordshire and also enjoys visiting nearby Knebworth House.
Although never having a number one hit in the UK – her debut single Kids in America reached number two in the UK Official Singles chart in 1981 – Kim did top the US Billboard charts with her cover of You Keep Me Hangin' On in June 1987.
6. Sir Cliff Richard
The Bachelor Boy went to secondary school in Cheshunt after his family moved to Hertfordshire.
Born in India, Cliff spent part of his childhood growing up in Waltham Cross and then Cheshunt after his family moved to England.
Cliff scored his first UK number one single with Living Doll in 1959 but initially didn't like the song.
"When I was 18, I was in a movie, Serious Charge. I had to sing a song, Living Doll. I thought it was a bit weak and like pseudo-rock ‘n’ roll, but it turned out that it was written in my movie contract that The Drifters and I – they hadn’t quite become The Shadows yet – had to release it as a single.
"Bruce Welch from the band had the idea of rearranging it as a country song. We decided to give it a go… and the rest is history."
Cliff made movie Summer Holiday at Elstree in the 1960s with Una Stubbs – the great-granddaughter of Welwyn Garden City and Letchworth founder Sir Ebenezer Howard – who died earlier this month.