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Dana International

About

Quick Facts

Name
Sharon Cohen

Born
02 February 1969

Nationality
🇮🇱 Israeli

National Selection
Kdam Eurovision 2011
Internal selection 1998
Kdam Eurovision 1995

In Eurovision
2011 DĂĽsseldorf
1998 Birmingham

Song
Ding Dong (2011)
Diva (1998)

Biography

Sharon Cohen, known professionally as Dana International, was born on February 2, 1969, in Tel Aviv, Israel. Emerging from a Yemenite-Jewish family, she is the youngest of three siblings. Dana International, who was assigned male at birth, identified as female from an early age, aspiring to be a singer after being inspired by Ofra Haza’s performance in the 1983 Eurovision Song Contest. Despite the family’s financial constraints, her mother supported her musical ambitions, and Dana came out as transgender at the age of 13.

Before her transition, Cohen performed as a drag queen, imitating female singers. Her career took a significant turn when Israeli DJ Offer Nissim discovered her, producing her debut single “Saida Sultana,” a satirical take on Whitney Houston’s “My Name Is Not Susan.” This exposure was pivotal in launching her professional music career. In 1993, after undergoing male-to-female sex reassignment surgery and legally changing her name to Sharon Cohen, she released her debut album “Danna International,” which achieved gold record status in Israel.

Dana’s career saw a swift rise with the release of her albums “Umpatampa” (1994) and “Maganuna” (1996), which solidified her commercial success. She participated in Kdam Eurovision 1995 with the song “Layla Tov Europa”. Her breakthrough came in 1998 when she represented Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest with “Diva,” securing first place and catapulting her to international fame. Despite facing opposition from conservative factions within Israel, her victory was celebrated across Europe, and she became a symbol of reconciliation and acceptance.

Following her Eurovision win, Dana released several successful albums, including “Free” (1999), “Yoter VeYoter” (2001), “HaHalom HaEfshari” (2002), and “Hakol Ze Letova” (2007). In 2011, she returned to Eurovision with “Ding Dong,” although she did not advance to the final. That same year, she joined the judging panel of the Israeli television music talent contest “Kokhav Nolad.”

Throughout her career, Dana International has been a trailblazer and a significant figure in the LGBTQ+ community. Her music and public presence have contributed to the broader conversation around gender identity and acceptance. Despite the challenges she faced, including a brief setback with Sony BMG and a period of reduced public visibility, she remained an influential voice in music and LGBTQ+ rights.

In recent years, Dana continued to release new music, including singles “Ma La’asot” (2013), “Loca” (2013), and “Ir Shlema” (2013). She also ventured into television, searching for Israel’s next girl group on “Yeshnan Banot,” and participated in various pride events, reinforcing her message of love and tolerance. In 2018, she celebrated the 20th anniversary of her Eurovision win with a new version of “Diva” and performed at significant events, including the 2018 Israeli LGBT’s strike and the Jerusalem Pride and Tolerance Parade. Dana International’s legacy extends beyond her music; she is a cultural icon who embodies the spirit of perseverance and the fight for acceptance in the face of adversity.

In October 2020, Dana participated in the “Call of the Hour” project, in which contemporary artists revived Hebrew songs, and she performed, alongside comedian Shahar Hasson and producer Omri Segal, a renewed version of the song “Makhelet Aliza” by Chava Alberstein.

In October 2022, an evening in honor of Dana International was held, titled “A Tribute to Dana International,” where a large number of Israeli female artists performed her songs, including Ilanit, Gali Atari, Zehava Ben, and Dafna Dekel. The event was attended by the fourteenth Prime Minister of Israel, Yair Lapid, making it the first official LGBTQ+ event in the history of the State of Israel to be attended by a Prime Minister.

Read more about Dana International in After the Eurovision Fame.

Entries

Ding Dong

Country
🇮🇱 Israel

Year
2011

Language
English
Hebrew

Lyrics
Dana International

Music
Dana International

Backings
5 backings, names unknown

Results Semi

Points: 38
Position: 15
Running order: 12

Results Finals

Points: –
Position: –
Running order: –

Diva

Country
🇮🇱 Israel

Year
1998

Language
Hebrew

Lyrics
Yoav Ginai

Music
Tzvika Pik

Conductor

Backings
Shirley Tzapri
Galit Dahan
Lilach Koch
Talia Adler

Results

Points: 172
Position: 1
Running order: 8