These notes are an expansion and supplement to Drew Blackburn's sleevenotes to the recently issued Vocalion CD.
Edna was born in Warrington, then in Lancashire (Latchford, almost certainly, where her parents were still living many years later) on 21st April 1936. She had an elder sister, Alice and another sister, Hilda. Drew describes father as a landscape gardener. I recollect WW2 service in the Merchant Navy, but correct me if I'm wrong, and mother as a keen amateur singer. I didn't know that bit but do remember a warm welcome and cup of real Lancashire tea!
Leaving school (Richard Fairclough Secondary School) at 15 (as we did then, very few of us stopped on to take even 'O' level GCEs), Edna trained as a GPO telephonist which was then regarded as a secure job for life - how times have changed - It wasn't long before she was, to use an expression popular with our local groups, able to 'give up the day job'. I have notes that before her BBC and Parlophone contracts she sang with (possible among others) The Jimmy White Band (source daughter Joan White, website) and Eric Pepperell (according to programme notes Ken Mackintosh Band Show 1955, she just noted on a night out at the Bell Hall, Warrington that the band were devoid of a vocalist, so just walked up to Eric and volunteered, how many 16 year olds today would have either the confidence or nerve? Archie Dixon of Warrington recalls.I remember Edna & Barbara Law singing together with Eric Pep at St Margaret's Church Hall at Latchford. If you Google'' Warrington singer Barbara Law'' you can get more info.
In 1954 after two (what! only two!) auditions with the BBC came her first radio broadcast with Alan Ainsworth and The BBC Northern Variety Orchestra. A year later her fourth record gave her the one and only entry in the charts at No 19. Is the term 'one hit wonder' ever justified? There was a lot of first class competition about in those days. I will let the youth of today judge today's offerings. Just a comment that to the older generation 'our' music surpasses any thing before or since.
In the 1956 film 'It's Great to be Young' she dubbed the voiceover for Dorothy Bromiley. Ruby Murray sang the number in the opening credits
Details of her concert work, TV and radio programmes, music hall engagements (and pantomime) are listed separately on the 'concerts' page and (as far as I can tell) a complete account of all her records on the 'discography' page. She tried to relaunch her singing career after the expiry of the Parlophone contract, working in the London area.
Ever the optimist, Edna survived four marriages and divorces, Terry Dene the Rock and Roll singer, Reg Rose a garage proprietor (if memory serves me correctly), Douglas Wilkes guitarist with the 'Shondells'. (Is this the same 'Shondells' of Tommy Lee fame?) (Yes it is). They had twin daughters, Allison and Samantha and lastly Dennis Plowright her pianist. She spent the later years of her life bringing up her two daughters and grandson, Christopher John (Allison's son, not as noted on the sleevenotes of the CD, Evermore (source, daughter, Samantha Wilkes, pers. comm.) Since writing this in 2004, I learn that Allison also now has a young daughter and Samantha, very recently in April 2011 a son.
Edna died in Ormskirk Hospital on 31st December 2000, back in her own home county, of which Warrington is no longer a part.