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The winner of the 1970 Eurovision Song Contest, where she represented her homeland, Ireland, singer Dana was born Rosemary Brown in Islington, London, on August 30, 1951. Her family had relocated to the U.K. the previous year from their home in Derry, Northern Ireland, and they returned there when Dana was five. The following year, the little girl won the first of many talent contests and, shortly before her 16th birthday, she was signed to the Decca label's Rex subsidiary. Her debut single, "Sixteen" (composed by her manager, Tony Johnston), was backed by one of her own compositions, "Little Girl Blue." The single was credited to Dana. Further 45s included 1968's "Come Along Murphy" and "Heidschi Bumbeidschi," and 1969's "Look Around." Popular on the local cabaret circuit, Dana was first invited to represent Ireland at Eurovision in 1969. Her entry, "Look Around," finished second in the national finals, but she was back the following year, performing "All Kinds of Everything," and this time she was victorious, both in the nationals and at the finals. "All Kinds of Everything" went on to top charts around the world, including the U.K., Australia, South Africa, and Singapore. An album of the same name was also recorded. A follow-up single, "I Will Follow," flopped, but "Who Put the Lights Out" reached number 14 in the U.K. in early 1971. However, it would be another four years before Dana truly established herself as a chart regular, as a string of subsequent releases bombed: "Today" and "Isn't It a Pity" (both 1971), "New Days...New Ways" and "Crossword Puzzle" (1972), and "Do I Still Figure in Your Life" and "Sunday Monday Tuesday" (1973). In the meantime, she made her acting debut in the Ron Moody/Jack Wilde movie The Flight of the Doves, and became a regular at the summer seasons hosted by theaters around the U.K. holiday resorts.
Dana resurfaced on the recording scene in 1974, newly signed to the GTO label. Her debut, "Are You Still Mad at Me," did nothing, but the new year saw her score a Top Ten hit with "Please Tell Him That I Said Hello." "It's Gonna Be a Cold Cold Christmas" made number four that same year, while 1976 brought a Top 40 cover of Eric Carmen's "Never Gonna Fall in Love Again" and the Top 20 "Fairytale." This period also saw the release of the albums Have a Nice Day and Love Songs & Fairy Tales. There was then another lull before "Something's Cooking in the Kitchen" returned her to the chart in 1979 -- accompanied by the aptly titled LP The Girl Is Back. Though her U.K. career continued sporadically, Dana remained a superstar in Ireland, while also establishing herself as a leading light in the then-nascent "Christian rock" movement. (Her autobiography, 1985's Dana -- An Autobiography, discusses her religious convictions in great depth.) "Totus Tuus," titled for Pope John Paul II's motto, was an Irish chart-topper in the wake of the Pontiff's 1979 visit to Ireland, and the following year she scored her first hit LP, Everything Is Beautiful, a collection of inspirational songs. This led her to her first wholly religious album, 1981's Totally Yours (issued on the Christian Word label) and, although she continued making secular recordings too, her output has since been dominated by further religious collections.
In 1990 Dana, her husband, and their two children relocated to Birmingham, AL, where they became involved with the Catholic broadcasting network EWTN. Dana became a regular TV host, while recording for the Catholic HeartBeat label. The family remained in the U.S. until 1997, when Dana turned her attention to Irish politics. Standing as an independent, she was third in that year's race for the presidency, beating out the mainstream Irish Labour Party. Two years later she won a seat in the European parliament, and held it until 2004. Since that time, Dana and her husband, Damien, have launched their own record label, DS Music Productions; releases include a tribute to the recently deceased Pope John Paul II, Totus Tuus, and a collection of children's songs, 2007's Good Morning Jesus: Prayers & Songs for Children of All Ages. ~ Dave Thompson