Swansea University honours Bonnie Tyler

Bonnie TylerSwansea University has conferred an Honorary Degree on Skewen-born singer, songwriter and businesswoman, Bonnie Tyler (Gaynor Sullivan).  She was presented with the DLitt Honorary Degree today (Wednesday 10 July) during the degree ceremony for the College of Business, Economics and Law.

Bonnie Tyler (born Gaynor Hopkins) was born in Skewen, Neath.  She left school in the 1960s without any formal qualifications. However, her talent as a musician shone through, and she secured her first recording contract with RCA Records in 1976, after being discovered singing in Swansea by talent scout Roger Bell.  Thereafter she took the stage name Bonnie Tyler.

Her breakthrough hit was her second single, “Lost In France”, which climbed to number nine in the UK charts. The track was subsequently released in Europe, where it again became a huge hit, staying in the Top Ten in Germany for more than six months.

Bonnie was nominated for Best British Female Newcomer in the 1977 Brit Awards, and soon after she underwent surgery to remove nodules from her vocal cords; an operation which enhanced her already distinctive husky voice.

Later that year, Bonnie’s next single, “It’s A Heartache”, became a hit on both sides of the Atlantic, reaching number one in several European countries and breaking the American charts.

The 1980s brought even greater success for Bonnie, thanks to collaboration with epic rock pioneer and Meat Loaf producer Jim Steinman.

Their partnership resulted in the album “Faster Than The Speed Of Night”, and the multi-platinum-selling 1986 power ballad “Total Eclipse Of The Heart”, which reached number 1 in the UK and the US, and garnered international recognition. It also led to a Grammy Award nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal performance and Best Television Video for Bonnie.

Bonnie had continued success with three albums in the 1990s.  She toured extensively across Europe and performed at the opening of the National Assembly for Wales in 1999.

More recently, Bonnie flew the flag for Wales when she represented the UK in the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest in Malmo, Sweden, with the song “Believe in Me”. Bonnie has also just won two Eurovision Song Contest Radio awards, for Best Song and Best Female Artist in this year’s competition.  These are voted for by Eurovision fans not only in Europe, but around the world. This is the first occasion a UK artist has won any of these awards. 

Bonnie Tyler has sold an estimated 20million records and recorded with some of the world’s most recognisable labels including RCA, Sony, and Columbia.  She has just released a brand new album: ‘Rocks and Honey’ recorded in Nashville, USA.

Despite her international success, Bonnie Tyler has never lost touch with her south Wales and Swansea Bay roots, of which she is fiercely proud, with a home just a short distance from the University, in Mumbles. She is also part of a large and very close family.

On receiving her Honorary Degree, Bonnie Tyler said: “Although I have been lucky enough to travel all over the world with my singing, I am as passionate as ever about Wales and Swansea, and I will never forget my roots. I still live in Mumbles, just a stone’s throw from the University.

“To be made an Honorary Fellow by my “home” University is a tremendous honour. I am so delighted to be here today to accept this award.”