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August 1, 2021

After the Eurovision fame – Carola

Carola (Maria Häggkvist)  was born on 8 September 1966 at Södersjukhuset in Stockholm, Sweden.  She grew up in Norsborg, south of the Swedish capital. At the age of eight, she began to perform. She also attended Adolf Fredrik’s Music School. In 1977, Carola won a talent competition and appeared on television for the first time. In 1981, Swedish music promotor Bert Karlsson met the then 15-year-old Carola after she performed on the television series Hylands hörna. He offered her the chance to take part in Melodifestivalen, the Swedish preselection for the Eurovision Song Contest in 1982. She said no.  The next year, songwriter Lasse Holm offered her two of his songs :  “Mona Lisa” and “Främling”. “Främling” won Melodifestivalen 1983, and with this song Carola won the right to represent Sweden at that year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Munich on April 23.   She finished third in front of 6.1 million Swedish television viewers, 84% of the country’s population. This is still a record in Sweden. “Främling” became the title track to her debut album, which sold over one million copies, making it the biggest selling album in Swedish history.  After Eurovision, Carola went on a tour of European television programs, promoting “Främling” and performing it in several languages. In 1985, the Bee Gees collaborated with her on the album Runaway, which was written by the Gibb brothers and produced by Maurice Gibb. The record sold double platinum when released in Sweden the following year. “The Runaway”, “Brand New Heart”, “Spread your wings” and “Radiate” became massive hits in Scandinavia.   In 1990, she returned to Melodifestivalen, with “Mitt i ett äventyr” (In the middle of an adventure). The song finished second in the festival. Her comeback album, titled “Much More”, was released, earning a gold certificate in Sweden. However, Carola and songwriter Stephan Berg had already begun planning another attempt at Eurovision. In 1991, she returned to Melodifestivalen again with “Fångad av en stormvind” (Captured by a lovestorm). The song won the festival by thirty-two points and became the Swedish entry for the Eurovision Song Contest in Rome. British bookmakers considered Carola as the  second favourite to win the contest. On the night of the contest, with one voting jury left to announce their scores, three countries were in competition to win the contest: Sweden, with 146 points; Israel, with 139; and France, with 134. Neither Israel nor Sweden received any points from the Italian jury, but France received twelve, leaving Sweden and France tied for first place with 146 at the conclusion of the voting. Sweden won the contest after a recount, having received five ten-point scores during the voting versus France’s two. “Fångad av en stormvind” became a huge hit in Europe, and was followed by a compilation album, “Hits”, and a Christmas album, “Jul”. After her victory, she released an international version of “Much More” and went on an extended promotional tour throughout Europe. Her album produced several hits, among them “I’ll live” and “All the Reasons to Live” Carola was the first Scandinavian pop artist to perform in China—in front of an estimated 600 million television viewers; she also released an album in China in 1992. In 1992 and 1993, Rival International, released Carola’s earlier albums on CD. She was originally signed to Mariann Records in Scandinavia. In 1993, ten years after her breakthrough representing Sweden at the 1983 Eurovision Song Contest, she recorded a gospel album, My Tribute, which was released in sixteen countries, making her gospel artist of the year in the Netherlands in 1994. The album contains the hit-single “My Tribute”, one Carola’s  best-known songs. In 1994, she  released a rock-themed album, ‘”Personligt” (Personally), marking her debut as a songwriter and selling gold. “Så länge jag lever”, “Sanna Vänner” and “Guld i dina ögon” became hits and received a great amount of radio airplay. In 1995, Häggkvist made her debut as a musical actress, playing Maria in The Sound of Music. Three years later, she sang the theme song in the Norwegian musical Sophie’s World, which was released on the album “Songs” from Sophie’s World. Also in 1998, Carola played the voice of Mirjam in the Swedish version of The Prince of Egypt. In 2002, she made a short appearance as Fantine in Les Misérables in London and five Scandinavian cities. In November 1997, Carola released another compilation album, De bästa av Carola (“The Best of Carola”), and with it several new singles like “Dreamer”. Following this came an album of tracks penned by Lina Sandell, Blott en dag (“Just One Day”). The album received excellent reviews and revealed Carola’s passion for hymns. In 1999, another Christmas album was released: Jul i Betlehem (“Christmas in Bethlehem”). The album sold 600,000 copies throughout Scandinavia, including 350,000 in Sweden and became the biggest-selling album of 1999. She also co-wrote the ballad “Himlen i min famn”, which remains a popular Christmas song that is often performed at Christmas concerts. In the summer of 1999, she toured in the Rhapsody in Rock. In 2001, she released “Sov på min arm”, an album based on Christian hymns, gospel melodies and intimate ballads. It became one of the most-sold albums in Scandinavia that year. In 2002, she release the pop/country album “My Show”, which received great reviews. The album, which marked Carola’s return to the pop scene, contained several hits such as “The Light”, “I believe in love”, which also topped the Estonian and Brazilian charts, and “A Kiss Goodbye”. Even though the album only peaked at number 6 on the Swedish album chart, it sold 100,000 copies by the end of the year. In the summer, she embarked on a huge and luxurious Scandinavian tour. In 2003, Carola submitted a song, “Autumn Leaf”, for Melodifestivalen 2003. Having performed the demo, she was required to perform the song when it qualified for the competition. She decided against doing that, and the song was disqualified from the competition. “Autumn Leaf” appeared on her next album, “Guld, platina & passion”, in Swedish as “När löven faller”. The ballad became an enormous hit, and the album itself reached number 1 on the Swedish charts and

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Eurovision Universe Summer Party: Azúcer Moreno – Bandido

Azúcar Moreno is the duo consisting sisters Antonia “Toñi” (14 March 1963) and Encarnación “Encarna” Salazar (10 January 1961), the singing duo are part of a large family of performers. The Azúcar Moreno sisters began their singing careers as back-up vocalists to their brothers, but in 1982, they were discovered and signed by record label EMI Spain, resulting in two albums with moderate commercial success released in 1984 and 1986. Azúcar Moreno had their commercial breakthrough in Continental Europe and Latin America after singing their song “Bandido”, at the Eurovision Song Contest 1990, representing Spain. Unfortunately, the start of their performance was marred by sound problems at the arena in Zagreb. “Bandido” went out as entry number one of twenty-two participating countries. The contest was broadcast live to an audience of approximately 500 million viewers – but due to a tape technician not starting the pre-recorded backing track in time both the singers, their band and the live orchestra missed their cues. This resulted in the sisters finally having to walk off stage, make a second entrance and start the song and their dance routine all over.Despite this very unfortunate debacle “Bandido” finished an honourable fifth and the song and its accompanying album, also including follow-up single “Devórame Otra Vez”, became the starting point of the duo’s international career. Follow our Summer Party:  YouTube and Spotify

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