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After the Eurovision Fame

After the Eurovision Fame: Johnny Logan

Johnny Logan won the Eurovision Song Contest three times. Twice he did this as a performing artist; in 1980 in The Hague, The Netherlands with “What’s another year” and in 1987 in Brussels, Belgium with “Hold me now”. In 1992 he participated in Malmö, Sweden as a lyricist and composer of “Why me?” (Linda Martin). It earned him the nickname “Mr. Eurovision”.   Early life and career Johnny Logan was born as Seán Patrick Michael Sherrard in Frankston, Victoria (Australia), on May 13, 1954. He was the son of the famous Irish tenor Patrick O’Hagan. When he was three years old, the family moved back to Ireland. Sherrard had a musical childhood in which he learned to play the guitar at a young age. He composed his first songs when he was 13. After high school, he started working as an electrician. He also performed as a musician in clubs. He also starred in several musicals. Together with his brother Michael he was part of several bands. At the beginning of his professional music career, Sherrard took the stage name Johnny Logan. This name was taken from the main character from the movie Johnny Guitar. He then recorded his first single in 1978: “No, I don’t want to fall in love”. The song wasn’t a hit. In a quest for more success, he decided to register for the Irish national heat for the Eurovision Song Contest of 1979. With the song “Angie ” he finished behind winner Cathal Dunne in third place. Later that year his debut album, “In London” , was released. First Eurovision victory In March 1980, Logan made another attempt to go to the Eurovision Song Contest for Ireland. In the Irish heat of that year he performed “What’s another year”, a song by Shay Healy. This time Logan easily won the national competition and was able to represent Ireland at the Eurovision Song Contest, on April 19, 1980 in The Hague. He was previously counted among the favorites for the final victory and turned out to be able to meet those expectations. Excluding Morocco and Turkey, he received points from every country and with a total score of 143 points he gave Ireland a Eurovision victory after ten years. “What’s another year” became a big hit in several European countries. In addition to Ireland itself, it also reached the number 1 position in Belgium and the United Kingdom, among others. Nevertheless, Logan failed to maintain his sudden international success. Successive singles flopped and the number of bookings was disappointing, in his own words due to poor management and his own inexperience. As a result, the singer got into financial trouble and also developed an alcohol problem. In 1984, however, Logan had another success as a writer of the song “Terminal 3”, with which Linda Martin finished second on behalf of Ireland at that year’s Eurovision Song Contest. He got the taste of the Eurovision song contest again and continued to write potential entries. For example, his brother Michael (Mike) Sherrard appeared in the Irish heat of 1985 with the song “Hearts” written by Logan, which ended up in last place. Mike (Michael Sherrard) In 1986, his song “If I can change your mind,” was re-performed by Linda Martin, became fourth in the Irish preselection. Second Eurovision victory In an attempt to get his career back on track, and to erase his predicate of one-day fly, Logan himself wanted to return to the Eurovision song contest to try to win the event again. In 1987 he wrote and composed the song “Hold me now”, which he submitted to the Irish national heat of that year. He managed to win the selection again and was thus allowed to represent Ireland again at the Eurovision Song Contest, which was held two months later in Brussels, Belgium. At the Eurovision song contest, where he received a lot of media attention as a former winner, Logan was again considered one of the favorites. The total points score of 172 was ultimately enough for the victory. It meant, after 1970 and 1980, the third Irish Eurovision victory, and the second for Logan personally. He thus became the first (and to date only) performing artist to win the Eurovision Song Contest twice. As with “What’s another year”, Johnny Logan also scored a big hit with “Hold me now” in several European countries. In addition to Ireland himself, he also reached the number 1 position in Flanders. The subsequent single “I’m not in love” was, as well as the released album “Hold me now”, a modest success. Third Eurovision victory After a few years, in which he made an international tour, Logan again occupied himself with the Eurovision Song Contest at the beginning of the nineties. For the 1991 Irish national heat he wrote the song “When do I get over you?” which put his brother Mike in sixth place. A year later he resumed his collaboration with Linda Martin and wrote for her the song “Why me?”, which would become the Irish entry at the 1992 Eurovision Song Contest in Malmö. The song caught on and ensured another victory for Ireland. Logan became the first (and to date only) person to win the Eurovision Song Contest three times.   Later career In the years that followed, Logan continued to write and release music. He became a much sought-after artist at events where the Eurovision Song Contest is central. His popularity stabilized especially in Scandinavia, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium. Live during ” Het Grote Songfestivalfeest” in Amsterdam in 2019 Logan remained involved in the Eurovision Song Contest in various ways over the years. For example, during the scoring in 2004 he passed on the Irish points and he wrote several songs for preliminary rounds, and he also regularly sat on professional juries during national selections. In both 2007 and 2009, Logan was approached by Irish broadcaster RTÉ to represent Ireland again at the Eurovision Song Contest, but in both cases the talks came to nothing. In 2010

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After the Eurovision fame: Dima Bilan

Dima Bilan won the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest for Russia. Early life Dima Bilan was born as Victor Belan on December 24, 1981. He was born in Ust-Dzheguta, in the Autonomous Soviet Republic of Karachay-Cherkessia. He took part in several music competitions. For example, he won the “Young Voices of the Caucasus” competition. His first performance on television was in 1995, also in a talent show. In 1998, when he was 16 years old, he went to Moscow to participate in the Chunga-Changa festival, where the chairman of the jury gave him a diploma. He chose ‘Dima Bilan’ as his stage name; Dmitriy was his grandfather’s name. So Dima is a tribute to him. Breakthrough and first two albums Once he lived in Moscow, Dima began to record his first songs. The video of his debut single “Osen” became a success. The video was shot in the Gulf of Finland. At the time, under the pseudonym Dima Belan, he was regularly seen on MTV Russia.Although he studied to become an opera singer, he dreamed of a career as a pop singer. The dream came true when a classmate introduced him to producer Yuri Aizenshpis. His first real big success came in 2002, when he took fourth place in the New Wave festival. A new single and video, “Boom”, followed and in 2003 there was Dima Bilan’s debut album “Ya nochnoy huligan”. Television appearances followed, and his single “Na beregu neba” reached number 2 in the Russian charts. The album with the same name went gold in 2004. It became one of the best-selling albums of 2004 in Russia. First steps in the field of Eurovision After this success, producer Aizenshpis registered Bilan to participate in the national final of the Eurovision Song Contest. He sang in English: “Not that simple”. Although he was close, Dima Bilan didn’t win the ticket to the Eurovision song contest in Kiev. He did, however, have a hit with the song. The Russian version “”Ty dolzhna ryadom byt’” became one of the biggest hits of 2005. Several other hits followed. When Yuri Aizenshpis passed away in late 2005, producers lined up to take Dima under their wing, eventually Yana became Rudkovskaya his new producer. That caused another problem with his name, because it was officially owned by Aizenshpis’ company. When this conflict was resolved, Dima decided to officially register under the name Dima Bilan. Eurovision 2006In 2006, the Russian broadcaster wanted to be sure that Dima Bilan would represent the country at the Eurovision Song Contest. They decided to single him out without a national final. His song “Never let you go” did very well: a second place was awarded to him. Never had a Russian candidate finished higher. He subsequently represented Russia at the MTV Europe Awards and won an Award as best-selling Russian singer at the World Music Awards. Winning the Eurovision Song Contest In 2007, Dima Bilan recorded an English-language album with the famous producers Jim Beanz and Ryan Tedder. Again, he won awards at the MTV Russia Award. In 2008 a new Russian album was released. He also took part in the national final for the Eurovision song contest again. During the contest in Belgrade he sang “Believe”. The song was co-written by Jim Beanz. Dima was accompanied by Hungarian violinist Edvin Barton and Olympic figure skating champion Evgeni Plushenko. Dima Bilan managed to win the Eurovision Song Contest. No return to Eurovision The album “Believe” soon followed. In 2010, Dima Bilan had a song ready to participate in the Eurovision song contest: “White nights”. However, he decided not to. Joining again two years later would be too soon, according to Bilan. In that year he did play the lead role in a short film. In 2011, he released another new Russian album. The return to the song contest came in 2012: in duet with Yulia Volkova (known from t.A.T.u.), “Back to her future”. Despite their favorite role, they did not win but had to make do with second place. The Voice After the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest, Dima Bilan released four more studio albums. He was also a coach in several seasons of the Russian version of The Voice. He was in the chair in seasons 1 through 3, in seasons 5 and 6, and will soon be seen again in season 10. He also coached the first four seasons of The Voice Kids in Russia.  

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After the Eurovision Fame: Dana International

Dana International won the Eurovision Song Contest 1998 in Birmingham, United Kingdom, representing Israel.   Childhood and early Career  Dana International (Sharon Cohen) was born in Tel Aviv, Israel as the youngest of three children. Her family is of Yemenite-Jewish descent. Though assigned male at birth, she identified as female from a very young age. She dreamed to become a singer from the age of eight, when she watched Israeli singer Ofra Haza perform her song “Chai” in the 1983 Eurovision Song Contest. Although the family was quite poor, her mother worked to pay for her music lessons, and she stated that her childhood was happy. Dana International took her stage name from a feminized version of a childhood friend Daniel, who died in a car accident. At 18 years of age, Cohen (still legally male at the time) earned a living as a drag queen, parodying many famous female singers. During one of her performances, she was discovered by Offer Nissim, a well-known Israeli DJ, who produced her debut single “Saida Sultana” (“The Great Saida”), a satirical version of Whitney Houston’s song “My Name Is Not Susan”. The song received considerable exposure and helped launch her career as a professional singer. In 1993, Dana International flew to London to continue her transition, and legally changed her name to Sharon Cohen. That same year Sharon  released her first album, titled “Danna International”, in Israel. Soon after, the album was also released in several other countries including Greece, Jordan, and Egypt (In Jordan and Egypt the album sold illegally). Sharon’s stage name Dana International comes from the title track of the album, and was originally spelled with two n’s. “Danna International” turned  gold in Israel.   2nd Album “Umpatampa” and Eurovision Song Contest  In 1994, Dana released her second, Trance-influenced album “Umpatampa”, which built on the success of her debut album and provided further hit singles. The album went platinum in Israel and has sold more than 50,000 copies to date. Because of her popularity and the success of this album, she won the award for Best Female Artist of the Year in Israel. In 1995, Dana attempted to fulfill her childhood dream of performing in the Eurovision Song Contest. She entered the Eurovision qualifying contest Kdam Eurovision in Israel with a song entitled “Layla Tov, Eropa” (“Good Night Europe”) which finished second in the pre-selections, but became another hit single. In 1996, Dana released her third album, “Maganuna”. Although this album was less successful than her previous efforts, it still reached gold in Israel. Dana was chosen to represent Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest 1998 in Birmingham with the song “Diva”. Orthodox Jews and others with conservative views were opposed to the choice and attempted to void her participation in the contest. In May 1998, Dana performed “Diva” at the Eurovision final and won the contest with 172 points. She became internationally known, and was interviewed by the big music stations, unfortunately mostly focusing on her life as a transsexual person before winning the contest. Dana’s own words “the message of reconciliation” were; “My victory proves God is on my side. I want to send my critics a message of forgiveness and say to them: try to accept me and the kind of life I lead. I am what I am and this does not mean I don’t believe in God, and I am part of the Jewish Nation.”   Dana released “Diva” as a single in Europe and it became a hit, reaching number 11 in the UK charts and the top ten in Sweden, Belgium, Finland, Ireland, and the Netherlands.   After winning the Eurovision In 1999, Dana released “Woman in Love”, a Barbra Streisand cover. In May 1999, Dana again participated in the Eurovision Song Contest held in Jerusalem. Dana was a part of the interval act and sang the Stevie Wonder song “Free”. One memorable moment from the event was when she presented the award to the winners of the contest. Whilst she was carrying the heavy trophy, one of the composers of the winning Swedish entry stepped on the long trail of her dress by mistake, and she fell over on stage – in front of a television audience estimated to be a million or more, making it one of the most memorable moments in the 50-year-long history of the contest. She released her next album “Free” in Europe in 1999, which enjoyed moderate success. A few months later Dana moved back to Israel and started to work on different projects. Israeli and Japanese editions of “Free” were released in 2000. That same year, an Israeli documentary film was made about Dana called Lady D. In 2001, after a break, Dana released her seventh album “Yoter Ve Yoter” (More and More).  The album put her career in Israel back on track and provided two hits called “Ani Nitzachti” (I Won) and “Achrei HaKol” (After All), which eventually both went gold. Dana was about to sign with a major label, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, for an international recording contract. There were disagreements that led to Sony Music cancelling the deal before it was completed. A few years later, in 2005, Dana participated in the 50th anniversary of the Eurovision Song Contest, held in Copenhagen, after “Diva” was selected as one of fourteen songs considered to be the best Eurovision songs. The song did not make it into the final top five. Dana got the chance to perform both “Diva” and an old Eurovision favourite of hers, Baccara’s 1978 entry “Parlez-Vous Français”.   Return to music and Eurovision comeback   After a few years away from show business, together with the relaunch of her official website, a first single of the upcoming album was released in March 2007: “HaKol Ze LeTova” (“It’s All For the Best”). The official album, also titled “Hakol Ze Letova,” was released on 15 August 2007. “ On 26 February 2008, Dana gained an additional achievement when the song “Ke’ilu Kan” written and composed by her and performed by Boaz Mauda, was chosen on Kdam  to represent Israel at Eurovision Song Contest 2008 in Belgrade, Serbia. It came 5th in the semi-final and gained 9th place in the final rank.

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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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After the Eurovision Fame – Scott Fitzgerald

We would like to introduce you to our new column: After the Eurovision fame. Today we put Scott Fitzgerald in the spotlight. Scott Fitzgerald was born in Glasgow, Scotland on April 28th, 1948. He began his career on the GTO label, releasing the singles “Judy Played The Jukebox” in 1974 and the title track to glam rock movie “Never Too Young To Rock”in 1975.  Fitzgerald’s greatest success was with “If I Had Words”, a duet with Yvonne Keeley and also featuring the St. Thomas More School Choir. It reached number 3 in the UK Singles Chart in 1978, and later went on to be a hit in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Belgium, the Netherlands and Scandinavia, selling more than one million copies. The song also featured in the score for the 1995 film BabeIn 1999, the band Westlife collaborated with the Vard Sisters to record the song. In 1988, he was the first ever artist chosen by telephone vote to sing the UK’s entry in the Eurovision Song Contest with the song “Go”. The song was written and composed by Julie Forsyth, daughter of the entertainer Sir Bruce Forsyth. Forsyth joined Fitzgerald on stage at the contest in Dublin, alongside her husband Dominic Grant (also of Guys ‘n’ Dolls) and Des Dyer (formerly of Jigsaw), to perform backing vocals. Ronnie Hazlehurst conducted the live orchestration. Fitzgerald came second in the contest, by one point, to Switzerland’s winning entry performed by Celine Dion. “Go” reached number 52 in the UK Singles Chart in April 1988. Fitzgerald reunited with Yvonne Keeley in 1992 for the single “United We Stand”, which was released on Red Bullet Records. In 2010 Fitzgerald and Keeley reunited for the final time in an all star version of ”If I had words” for Charity in the Netherlands which featured Gordon, Patricia Paay, Thomas Berge and many others. His album from 1988 ” The wind beneath my wings” has recently attracted interest again, and can be heared on Spotify and is for sale on Amazon. Fitzgerald is married to Shereen Fitzgerald and has three children, Liam Paul Patrick McPhail (passed away in 2020), Neeley Fitzgerald and the singer-songwriter Ki Fitzgerald, an original member of the UK boy band Busted and hit-songwriter to artists around the world. Ki co-wrote Monsters for Saara Aalto’s Finland 2018 entry into Eurovision Song Contest, adding to the family’s Eurovision history. Fitzgerald’s Eurovision experience was allmost forgotten until he decided to embrace his past and performed at a number of party nights in 2021 to celebrate the contest.    

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