Page last updated at 16:23 GMT, Friday, 17 February 2006

Reclusive star's duet with Parton

Mary Hopkin
The offer to Mary Hopkin came out of the blue

Sixties star Mary Hopkin is stepping back into the limelight by collaborating with singer Dolly Parton.

After four decades out of the public eye the 55-year-old has been working with Parton on a reworking of her 1968 Number One hit Those Were The Days.

The new version is the title track of the American country star's latest album, a collection of covers from the Sixties and Seventies.

Originally from Pontardawe near Swansea Hopkin found fame as a teenager.

For decades Hopkin has shunned interviews and she now divides her time between her family home in Wales and a remote French farmhouse.

Dan Griffiths a member of the Mary Hopkin's fan site thinks her return is "excellent" news.

"It's lovely to hear Mary's back in the limelight."

One day out of the blue we received the offer in a phone call from Dolly
Gerry Maxim, Hopkin's agent

Mr Griffiths added that Hopkin had recorded on her nephew's album five years ago but before that she had not recorded anything since 1994.

He believed Hopkin had collaborated with Parton because of her fresh approach to county and western music.

"Dolly's new approach going back to the basics of country music appealed to Mary.

"She became a recluse because of record industry pressures on her, but the way Dolly has reinvented herself - Mary's attracted to it."

Hopkin shot to fame when she appeared on TV talent show Opportunity Knocks in 1968.

She won the competition and the following week received a telegram from The Beatles' label Apple inviting her for an audition.

'Great fan'

She signed to the label and was championed by Paul McCartney.

Her debut single Those Were The Days topped the chart for five weeks, replacing The Beatles' Hey Jude at Number One, and turned the 18-year-old folk singer into a star.

The song also became a hit in the US.

Dolly Parton
Parton is collaborating with different artists for her 60th birthday album

She toured with Engelbert Humperdinck and came second in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1970 with Knock Knock Who's There.

Born in May 1950 into a Welsh speaking family she has released albums in both languages.

In the summer of 1970 she was made a Bard of Gorsedd at Ammanford, where she took the Bardic name of Mari Hopcyn.

She had five top 20 singles in two years but when her first child was born in 1972 she decided to concentrate on family life.

Hopkin's agent Gerry Maxim told The Independent newspaper that the offer to work with Parton was too good an offer to resist.

"One day out of the blue we received the offer in a phone call from Dolly. She is a great fan of Mary's and vice versa," Maxim said.

Parton's album is to be released to mark her 60th birthday and Norah Jones, Keith Urban and Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, also appear on the record.



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