Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O'Brien OBE (16 April 1939 - 2 March 1999), known professionally as Dusty Springfield and dubbed The White Queen of Soul, was a British pop singer whose career extended from the late 1950s to the 1990s. With her distinctive sensual sound, she was an important white soul singer, and at her peak was one of the most successful British female performers, with 18 singles in the Billboard Hot 100 from 1964 to 1970. She is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the U.K. Music Hall of Fame. International polls have named Springfield among the best female rock artists of all time.
Born in West London to an Irish Catholic family that enjoyed music, Springfield learned to sing at home. She joined her first professional group, The Lana Sisters, in 1958, then formed the pop-folk vocal trio The Springfields in 1960 with her brother Dion.
Her solo career began in 1963 with the upbeat pop hit, "I Only Want to Be with You" (1963). Among the hits that followed were "Wishin' and Hopin'" (1964), "I Just Don't Know What to Do with Myself" (1964), "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" (1966), and "Son of a Preacher Man" (1968). A fan of American pop music, she was the first public figure to bring little-known soul singers to a wider British audience, when she created and hosted the first British performances of the top-selling Motown artists in 1965. By 1966, she was the best-selling female singer in the world, and topped a number of popularity polls, including Melody Maker's Best International Vocalist. She was the first British singer to top the New Musical Express readers' poll for Female Singer. Her image, supported by a peroxide blonde beehive hairstyle, evening gowns, and heavy make-up, made her an icon of the Swinging Sixties.
The marked changes in pop music in the mid-1960s left many female pop singers out of fashion. To boost her credibility as a soul artist, Springfield went to Memphis, Tennessee, to record an album of pop and soul music with the Atlantic Records main production team. Released in 1969, Dusty in Memphis has been ranked among the greatest albums of all time by Rolling Stone and VH1 artists, New Musical Express readers, and the Channel 4 viewers polls. The album was also awarded a spot in the Grammy Hall of Fame.
After this, however, Springfield experienced a career slump for eighteen years. She returned to the Top 20 of the British and American charts in collaboration with the Pet Shop Boys on the songs "What Have I Done to Deserve This?", "Nothing Has Been Proved", and "In Private". Interest in Springfield's early output was revived in 1994 due to the inclusion of "Son of a Preacher Man" on the soundtrack of the movie Pulp Fiction.