It doesn’t matter if you’ve heard of Florence or not; you’ll soon understand the power of her voice. The year is 1913, and this nineteen year old beauty is about to release her first solo album. Known for her velvety smooth tone and husky voice, the English native has more than forty songs to her name, and she’s only set to make more history as she turns 100 in 2018. We can only imagine that age hasn’t diminished her in any way – if anything, it’s probably made her even more determined to live her life to the fullest!

Over a century later, Florence’s still going strong – releasing a brand new album in April of this year and continuing to tour the UK and Europe while supporting Bruno Mars on his U.S. tour. So it’s only fitting that we look back on the iconic singer’s incredible life story now, when she’s had so much influence on music and beyond. Here are some interesting tidbits about Florence McManus that you might not know.

A Singer Born In Yorkshire

Florence was born in Yorkshire, England on December 31, 1913. She began her career as a singer at the age of fourteen, appearing at local charity functions and church festivals. Growing up, she dreamed of becoming a professional singer, and at the age of nineteen, she released her first album – appropriately titled ‘Florence ‘Robert Pattinson’ McManus’ 1913. She initially supported herself playing the guitar and writing songs, earning extra cash by taking in lodgers and doing gardening jobs. Thankfully, she was discovered by a talent scout from HMV who saw potential in her, and after her meteoric rise to fame in the early-to-mid 20s, she became one of the most in-demand female singers of the decade. It should come as no surprise that she’s had so many iconic songs with themes of love and loss, as the later years of her life were undoubtedly her most successful and influential. She’s composed more than forty songs in total and is most well-known for her popular, if controversial, ballads like ‘Scarlet Ribbons’ and ‘I’ll Remember You’.

A Legendary Voice Actor

If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, you’ll know that the character of Sansa Stark is based on Florence. The British singer took inspiration from the HBO series when penning her hit song ‘Sansa’. In the show, Florence plays the role of a wealthy English heiress, Catherine Cole, who hires Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) to protect her home and family from harm. In the song, she begs the Lord Commander to let her get her hands on her “scarlet ribbons” – a reference to Catherine Cole’s gown. She also wears pale blue during her solo on the show, and in the lyrics to ‘Sansa’, she references this as an “eyebrow-raising” color. In reality, Cole never wore pale blue in her life (she preferred yellow and black), but the color has since become synonymous with her.

A Songwriter And A Photographer

In addition to being a singer, Florence is also a songwriter and a photographer. In 1933, she collaborated with the legendary Noël Coward on his English Novelty Songs, which were inspired by his play, ‘In These Fine Days’. She went on to write and record several more albums in the pre-war years, including ‘Laughing Matter’, which was described by one contemporary critic as “sure to become a classic.” These days, Florence is best known for her songs about love and loss, and it’s clear that the pain of regret still runs deep. In her book, ‘As You Really Should Not’, she opens up about her private life, and in particular, her regret for not acting on her love interests. So it seems that her prolific songwriting career really did start at the right time!

A Life In Music

Florence has had a remarkable career, and she’s been fortunate enough to have experienced so much. She’s touched millions of lives through her music, and it’s only right that we celebrate her extraordinary legacy now, as she turns 100 in 2018. In the decades since her first solo album, Florence has continued to tour the world and earn critical acclaim. In her centennial year, she released an album of songs by the great American songwriter Frank Loesser, titled ‘The Most Precious Thing In Life’. The album was met with positive reviews and won her a Grammy for Best Album of Lullabies.

The British fashion magazine, ‘Vogue’, named ‘The Most Precious Thing In Life’ one of the best albums of the year, hailing it as “a glorious celebration of music in all its forms.” They went on to name her the “grande dame of musical theater.” In July of this year, Florence will release the first of two memoirs, ‘The Most Precious Thing In Life – My Life In Music’, which will cover the earlier years of her career up to World War II. It will be available to UK readers on July 11th, and in the U.S. on July 12th.

More Than Forty Songs

Aside from writing and recording an entire album of lullabies for children, Florence has composed over forty songs in her illustrious career. Although much of her work is associated with film and theater, she has also recorded several solo albums of English folk songs, as well as other artists’ music. She’s more than earned her place in history, and we can only hope that she continues to inspire artists for many more years to come!