Jazz singer Patti Flynn’s memorial, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff

button-theme-womenIn March 2023 a purple plaque was unveiled at the Wales Millennium Centre to commemorate Patti Flynn (1937-2020), best known as a jazz singer. The WMC was one of her many performance venues. She was also an author, presenter and campaigner for better recognition of the history of ethnic minorities in Britain.

Patti Flynn
© P.M. Flynn/Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales

Patti’s father, Wilmot George Young, was a merchant seaman from Jamaica. He met Beatrice Maud Silver of Canton on one of the many occasions when his ship docked in Cardiff. They married and settled in Butetown, bringing up six children.

Wilmot and two of Patti’s brothers died in the Second World War: Wilmot’s ship was torpedoed; Arthur Young, a trumpeter and RAF Sergeant/wireless operator, died in a plane crash in 1944; Jocelyn Young was working on a Japanese ship when Japan entered the war, and was never heard of again. There is more information about Wilmot and Jocelyn on our pages about Cardiff’s Merchant Navy memorial (situated near the Senedd).

Patti campaigned for 26 years for the memorial – unveiled in 2019 near the Welsh National War Memorial in Cardiff – to recognise the sacrifices of those from minority backgrounds who fought in the world wars.

Patti’s musical talent was nurtured by Tiger Bay jazz guitarist Vic Parker. He accompanied her in her first gig, at the Glamorgan pub in Butetown when she was 18.

From the 1960s to 1980s Patti performed in clubs and theatres around the UK and became an international cabaret artiste. She performed in the hit West End show Bubbling Brown Sugar as understudy to Elaine Delmar.

In the mid-1980s she moved to Spain and became a music producer and radio presenter with her shows Just for You and Costa Nights. She returned to Cardiff to perform and create her popular shows Jazz Ladies of the Twentieth Century and A Trip Down Memory Lane.

Patti founded the Butetown Bay Jazz Heritage Festival with her friend Humie Webbe, celebrating Tiger Bay’s musical heritage and showcasing emerging talent. In 2006 she sang with Dame Cleo Laine and Sir John Dankworth at a Jazz Heritage Wales gig.

One of Patti’s three children died in an accident. Patti hosted her own Cardiff Radio show which helped counteract negative images of the city’s multicultural south. She contributed to the work of Butetown History & Arts Centre using music, storytelling and writing.

She was an advocate for the ethnic minority community in Cardiff, and in 2017 she was honoured as a founder of the Black History Month movement in Wales.

Postcode: CF10 5AL    View Location Map