Singers including Sir Cliff Richard and Katherine Jenkins have paid tribute to Dame Vera Lynn, who has died aged 103.
Sir Cliff, who performed with her on the 50th anniversary of VE Day in 1995, said she was “a great singer, a patriotic woman and a genuine icon”.
Jenkins, whose virtual duet was seen on the recent 75th anniversary, said her voice “brought comfort to millions”.
Michael Ball said she was “an inspiration to us all”, adding: “We shall never see her like again.”
He wrote that “her talent was so very rare and special”.
Elaine Paige wrote on Twitter that she was “very upset to hear the sad news”, and posted photographs, including one of herself with Dame Vera.
‘Survivors were reaching out’
In a statement, Sir Cliff recalled his “best, and favourite, memory” of sharing a stage with the singer known as the Forces’ Sweetheart in front of Buckingham Palace in 1995.
“We walked to the stage through a crowd of survivors of that war, and they were reaching out to touch and get a smile from Vera,” he remembered.
“I heard the words… ‘God bless you’ … ‘Thank you’ … ‘We love you’ for their very own Forces’ Sweetheart! A great singer, a patriotic woman and a genuine icon.
“I am happy to use the words called out on the wonderful day. Vera, thank you, God bless you, and I loved you too. Rest in a very deserved peace.”
‘She knew what people needed to hear’
Jenkins, whose duet appeared on the BBC’s VE Day anniversary coverage in May, added: “I simply cannot find the words to explain just how much I adored this wonderful lady.
“Her voice brought comfort to millions in their darkest hours, her songs filled the nation’s hearts with hope, and her emotive performances, whether home or abroad, then or now, helped to get us through.
“It was she who chose the sentiments of her songs – she knew instinctively what people needed to hear, how to rally the morale and her spirit and strength created the soundtrack of a generation.
“There will never be another Dame Vera Lynn. Forces’ Sweetheart and our sweetheart. An icon. A legend. An inspiration. My mentor and my friend. I will miss you greatly and I know we’ll meet again some sunny day.”
Alfie Boe, one of the younger generation of singers who appeared on an album released for Dame Vera’s 100th birthday in 2017, said: “It was a real pleasure to sing with her – an honour I will treasure forever.”
Aled Jones, who also appeared on that album, echoed those sentiments.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Dame Vera’s “charm and magical voice entranced and uplifted our country in some of our darkest hours”, while war veteran Captain Tom Moore recalled how she “had a huge impact on me” when he served in Burma, now known as Myanmar.
Actress and singer Sheridan Smith, who performed Dame Vera’s anthem We’ll Meet Again for the 75th anniversary of D-Day last year, told BBC Radio 5 Live her music is “so relevant today, just as it was back then”.
“She boosted morale with her music and brought the nation together though music, and it’s been very relevant recently. A lot of people have been using it again at this strange time,” Smith said. “She’ll never be forgotten. Her music lives on.”
Lyricist Sir Tim Rice also paid tribute, saying: “Dame Vera Lynn was one of the greatest ever British popular singers, not just because of her immaculate voice, warm, sincere, instantly recognisable and musically flawless.
“She will be remembered just as affectionately for her vital work in the Second World War and for her own Charitable Foundations in the 75 years since. A link with more certain times has been irrevocably broken.”
BBC director general Tony Hall said she “demonstrated how music and entertainment can bring joy in the most challenging times”.
BBC One will broadcast a special tribute programme at 19:30 BST on Thursday, and BBC Radio 2 will repeat a special edition of The People’s Songs about We’ll Meet Again at 21:00 BST on Sunday.