Life and times of the woman described as 'the golden voice of radio' - The Redditch Standard
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17th Aug, 2022

Life and times of the woman described as 'the golden voice of radio'

THE funeral of a woman described as ‘the golden voice of radio’ in the 1930s and 40s was held at Redditch crematorium on Monday.

Millicent Phillips was a child prodigy who’s beautiful singing made her a star right across the country.

Born in Easemore Road the daughter of a factory worker, it was her mother who discovered her amazing voice after hearing her singing in the bath.

By the age of five she was performing on stage at the Palace Theatre before her mother took her to the then popular coloratura soprano Mavis Bennett for singing lessons.

Speaking back in 2014 at her 90th birthday party, held at the Palace Theatre, she said: “I started going to festivals and won cups and medals and then I went to London and became a pro.

“It was lovely but you don’t appreciate it when you are young – I think I appreciate it more now, it does pass you by a bit.”

In 1935 at the age of ten she wowed judges at the Cheltenham Music Festival and was declared ‘a little genius’ only to be disqualified because of her age as she had been entered in a class of 12 to 15-year-olds.

In the same year she made her first studio recording ‘The Little Brown Owl’.

Eventually she came to the attention of executives at Parlophone Records and went on to record and release several records including On the Wings of Song by Jakob Mendelsshon in 1939. She also had a weekly radio show on Radio Luxembourg and Radio Normandy.

Dubbed the English ‘Deanna Durbin’ Millicent was billed as the ‘sensational 14-year-old girl soprano’.

A career in the movies beckoned but the outbreak of the Second World War had a disastrous effect.

“I was given a seven year contract to make films but the war ruined everything,” she said in 2014.

“I do look back and think what could have been, I could have done much more, it was a shame really.”

A CD of her wartime recordings called ‘From the Palace to the Palladium’ was released in 2005 while some of her earlier recordings are now available online.

Millicent’s professional singing career came to an end when she was 27 when she settled down to raise her three children.

She lived on Birchfield Road and later years moved to a care home in Dudley before passing away at Russells Hall Hospital last month.

Married four times, Millicent had three children, Janna, Jacqui, and Keff and also leaves five grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

“She really lived for her children and gave up her singing career to bring us up. She will be sorely missed,” said Janna.

Among the mourners at the service was Derek Coombes of Redditch Local History Society who a recording of Millicent in her heyday.

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