Aimee Anne Duffy (born 23 June 1984 in Gwynedd, Wales), known professionally as Duffy, is a Welsh singer-songwriter.Raised in Nefyn on the Llŷn Peninsula in North Wales, with her twin sister, Katy, and older sister Kelly, Aimee Ann Duffy's parents divorced when she was 10, and she moved to Pembrokeshire with her mother and sisters. She dropped her first name at the age of 19, calling herself Duffy professionally and personally.
Duffy's early interest in singing was apparently inspired by her father John Duffy's videotape of the 1960s television rock show Ready Steady Go! - she says she grew up without a record collection of her own. Duffy started singing at age 6 and at that age carried around a notebook in which she scribbled lyrics. She was booted from her school choir because her voice was "too big; I didn't fit in".
Duffy was put in a safe house in 1998 when police uncovered a plot by her stepfather's ex-wife to pay a hitman £3000 to kill her stepfather, identified as Philip Smith. Her stepfather's ex-wife served a 3 1/2 year jail term for the incident. A 1998 article in another British tabloid quotes a man identified as Philip Smith describing similar circumstances. The tabloid quoted Duffy as saying about the alleged incident: "I was so terrified. I felt so ill." She cites the effects of her stepfather's ex-wife's alcoholism as the reason for her not being a user of alcohol or drugs.
 Early career
After finishing her GCSEs in Pembrokeshire, Duffy returned to Nefyn when she was 15, and started singing in various local bands. Following an unsuccessful music project in Switzerland, Duffy returned to Wales in 2003 and was invited to appear on Wawffactor, a Welsh television show similar to Pop Idol on S4C. She was expected to win, but came second to winner Lisa Pedrig.
In her teens Duffy wanted and expected to be a world famous pop star and let others use her "as a vehicle for their vision not mine". At age 18 thinking her dreams were not going to come true she "became almost a quite withdrawn singer." After a re-evaluation she decided to just make music for no other purposes than her own fulfillment.
Duffy was elected president of the Students Union at Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor in Pwllheli, North Wales before transferring to the University of Chester in England. Advised by a lecturer to "Go on the dole, love, and become a singer," she left and worked for an optician, while building up a following in Alexander's (a local jazz and blues club) performing with guitarist David Burton from the band The Invisible Wires.
She recorded a three-song-EP in Welsh in 2004 and also appeared on two tracks on the album See You in the Morning by Mint Royale while working as a waitress and in a fishery. Owen Powell of Catatonia and Richard Parfitt of Newport band 60ft Dolls, introduced Duffy in August 2004 to former Public Image Ltd. member turned music manager and part-owner of Rough Trade Records, Jeanette Lee. Lee moved Duffy to Crouch End in London, and orchestrated a meeting between Duffy and Suede's ex-guitar player Bernard Butler.
After Butler had given Duffy a soul music "education" by downloading tracks on to her iPod that she could listen to while around London or travelling back to Wales—including Al Green, Bettye Swann, Ann Peebles, Beyoncé, Doris Duke, Scott Walker, Phil Spector and Burt Bacharach—the pair then co-wrote with her and helped create a new retro sound.
Contracted to A&M Records during 2007, on 23 November 2007, together with another rising star, Adele, Duffy was the most prominent of the so-called "new Amys" (a reference to singer Amy Winehouse). Under the sub-title, "The New Amys", Adam Thompson wrote in The Times on 30 December 2007 that "Duffy, Gabriella Cilmi and Adele lead the charge to be the next Winehouse. First sightings seem to indicate that they are all bright-eyed innocents with bags of talent—a familiar starting point, no?" Duffy herself disliked being referred to as "the new Dusty Springfield." British hip hop singer Estelle criticized Duffy and Adele for misrepresenting genuine soul music. Duffy partially agreed with the criticism in that she is not trying to “define” soul music but disputed the assertion that race should be an issue. Singer-songwriter Alison Goldfrapp said while Duffy has a great voice she was trained to sound essentially like Amy Winehouse as part of a business plan.
Duffy performed on the BBC2 television show Later with Jools Holland, which resulted in a second appearance on the related New Year's Eve show Hootenanny, on which, among other things, she performed with soul legend Eddie Floyd. On 22 February 2008, she appeared on Later with Jools Holland for a third time and performed "Rockferry", "Mercy" and "Stepping Stone". She also appeared on the BBC2 television programme The Culture Show on 23 February 2008 and performed "Mercy".
In January 2008, she came second in the annual BBC News website poll of industry experts Sound of 2008, for acts to emerge in the coming year. A review of her first major tour's stop at the respected King Tuts venue in Glasgow noted "her quiet assurance obviously stems from talent. When she let loose, her voice was awesome."
In Wales, she seems set to become the "pop" equivalent of mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins. A number of commentators have remarked on her unaffected personality and natural charm. She reached the number 1 spot on Siart C2 with her Welsh language EP entitled simply Aimée Duffy.
Butler and his musical partner David McAlmont, and a number of other musicians have formed the backbone of Duffy's band for her debut album entitled Rockferry, which was released on Polydor on 3 March 2008. After releasing a debut limited edition single, "Rockferry" in November 2007, Duffy then released a followup single, "Mercy", which went straight to number one on download sales on 17 February 2008. Duffy is the first Welsh female to achieve a number one pop single in the past 25 years, and the only female from the Llŷn Peninsula to ever top the UK music singles charts. "Mercy" spent a second week at number one on 24 February 2008, and set its full physical release on 25 February 2008.
She has revealed that "Rockferry" is written about the place Rock Ferry on The Wirral, where her father is from. She also has revealed that both "Mercy" and "Stepping Stone" are autobiographical. "Mercy" is about "sexual liberty" and "not doing something somebody else wants you to do" and "Stepping Stone" is about not expressing her feelings to a person she fell in love with.
On 21 April 2008 Duffy was at the top of the Pan-European Album chart for Rockferry and the Eurochart Hot 100 Singles chart for "Mercy". The second single from the album Warwick Avenue was at the number 3 position on the U.K. singles charts on June 1. The video for the song was filmed at Warwick Avenue underground station and Merrick Square, London. On 10 May Duffy performed a selection of songs from Rockferry at Radio 1's Big Weekend in Mote Park, Maidstone.
In North America Duffy is seen as the latest in a recent wave of British singers or "British invaders" consisting of females with a unique take on writing and performing songs. This has been compared to the original "wave" led by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. March 2008 saw her first American performances at the SXSW conference and in New York City. The Coachella Festival was her first festival gig. The performance started off with sound problems but she "delighted the crowd with 'Rockferry', 'Serious', 'Warwick Avenue' and 'Mercy'."
By May "Mercy" was a staple on VH1 and a hot Adult Contemporary radio hit, and had been featured in television shows ER, Smallville and the season finale of Grey's Anatomy as well as the soundtrack album for Sex and the City: The Movie. On May 10, Duffy released a remix of "Mercy", featuring rap artist The Game. On 13 May Rockferry was released in the United States to positive reviews. and debuted at number 4. To coincide with the album release Duffy performed at New York's historic Apollo Theater and made a number of television appearances. In addition a billboard of her has been displayed in Times Square. By the week of 22 May, "Mercy" was at at the number 27 position on the Billboard Top 100 propelled by digital downloads.
Duffy won the 2008 Song of the Year MOJO Award for Mercy. She was also nominated for Album of the Year and Breakthrough Act. The three nominations were the largest amount of nominations for any one act.
By the end of May Rockferry had sold more than 700,000 copies in the United Kingdom. In France, Rockferry had sold 159,583 copies between March 3 (release date) and the end of June. As of 9 June the album was at the number 2 position and had been on the charts for 14 weeks. On 12 June the album topped the European albums charts with Mercy at number 2 on the European singles chart. As of 7 July the album was set to become the first album of 2008 to sell one million copies.
As of 26 June nearly two months after its Unites States release Rockferry was still in the top 20 a success that was described as impressive for a newcomer by The Los Angeles Times which predicted she was likely to have Grammy Award success if the voters are willing to vote for a United Kingdom soul singer in consecutive years.
Duffy was the fifth best selling artist worldwide in the first half of 2008 selling 2.25 million copies.
As of 9 July 2008, Rockferry has become the best selling album in 2008 in the UK so far. The Official UK Charts Company has confirmed it has already sold over 1 million copies.
On the 14th of July 2008, Duffy appeared at the E3 2008 Microsoft press conference in Los Angeles; performing "Mercy" to promote the music game "Lips".