Artist

Lulu

Most Americans first heard of Lulu when she soared to the top of the charts with the pop ballad "To Sir with Love," the theme to the film of the same name, in 1967.

Actually, the Scottish singer -- born Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie -- had been a star in Britain since 1964, when she hit the Top Ten with a raucous version of "Shout." Lulu's mid-'60s recordings (which included a version of "Here Comes the Night" that preceded Them's hit rendition) were often surprisingly rowdy and R&B-influenced. Although she didn't match Dusty Springfield, her Brenda Lee-like rasp could be quite gutsy and soulful. Her career was headed in a determinedly middle-of-the-road direction by the late '60s, which saw her hosting a British variety show and marrying Bee Gee Maurice Gibb (they later divorced). Lulu raised a few eyebrows by traveling to Muscle Shoals studios to record her 1970 album New Routes and releasing a double-sided single of David Bowie tunes (which Bowie also played on and co-produced) in 1973. Lulu has recorded intermittently ever since -- her well-received 2004 album Back on Track coincided with a U.K. tour marking 40 years since her first appearance on the charts -- and she also continues to make TV and radio appearances in the U.K. ~ Richie Unterberger, Rovi