Today, 8th March, is International Women's Day: a global day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women around the world. To celebrate this day we look at five influential women who have won the Eurovision Song Contest.
Nearly 40 Eurovision winners have been solo female artists but there are also winning bands that include female lead vocalists. When it comes to winning the Eurovision Song Contest, it really is a case of girl power! To celebrate International Women's Day, we've selected just five winners who have been influential in the history of the Eurovision Song Contest.
It came as no surprise when Loreen won Melodifestivalen, the Swedish national selection for the Eurovision Song Contest, but she did it with record figures; more than 670,000 of the four million viewers called in to vote for her song Euphoria.
Loreen had been the main favourite to win Eurovision in 2012 ever since she appeared in the popular Swedish selection earlier that year. Her song Euphoria took Europe by storm and Sweden won the 2012 competition by a landslide. The song went on to be a worldwide hit and reached number one in several countries selling more than two million copies. As she referred to on Instagram in 2015, it was one of the best days of her life:
Dana International (1998)
Dana International was born in Israel and grew up in Tel Aviv. She was chosen to represent Israel in the 1998 Eurovision Song Contest with the song Diva, written by Yoav Ginai and Tzvika Pick. Following her win in the competition, Dana truly became international.
Dana's victory in the competition is arguably more symbolic given that the 1998 contest was the first year where televoting was used to decide the winner in the majority of countries. The victory sent out a powerful message of acceptance and shows that Europe was perhaps a more open-minded place than previously thought.
In Israel, on the night of the victory, thousands of people celebrated on the streets, and Dana became a symbol of liberalism and human rights. To date, Dana International remains the first and only openly transgender performer to have won the Eurovision Song Contest.
Isabelle Geneviève Marie Anne Gall was born on 9 October 1947 in Paris, France. Coming from a musical family, she had her first hit at age 16. In 1965 she was chosen to represent Luxembourg at the Eurovision Song Contest in Naples. The small country, land-locked between Belgium, France and Germany, often had to rely on 'talent from outside'.
Gall received points from 10 of the 18 participating countries. With 32 points, she won the contest a safe distance from the runner-up, the UK's Kathy Kirby, who only received 26 points. It brought Luxembourg its second victory in the contest.
Gall's victory brought her international fame in Europe and beyond. Poupée De Cire, Poupée De Son is credited as being the first pop song to win the Eurovision Song Contest and had a significant impact on the musical style of songs that were entered into the contest in the years that followed. France Gall passed away earlier this year at the age of 70.
The 1988 Eurovision Song Contest marked a major breakthrough in the history of the competition. The show, staged in Dublin, was given a makeover to attract a younger audience. Host broadcaster RTE introduced a modern set, at that point the largest in the history of the contest. Two giant video walls and a computerised scoreboard were also unveiled. At the time, it was a ground breaking production and set the standard for future editions of the contest. However, 1988 will always be remembered for one of the most thrilling voting moments in the history of the competition, and as the contest that launched a legend, Celine Dion.
Celine Dion opened the 1989 Eurovision Song Contest the following year with her winning entry, Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi, and also premiered the English language single, Where Does My Heart Beat Now? At the time of the contest she could barely speak English and was said to have recorded most of her debut English album, Unison, phonetically.
1988 marks the last time that a French language song won the Eurovision Song Contest. Whilst Celine does not perform Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi in concert, it was included on her French language greatest hits album, On Ne Change Pas, released in 2005. Celine has gone on to sell more than 250 million albums making her one of the biggest selling female artists of all time.
Last, but definitely not least: Lys Assia. She became the first winner of the very first Eurovision Song Contest in 1956, representing Switzerland with her song Refrain. Lys is the only Swiss contestant to have ever won the Eurovision Song Contest as Switzerland's other winner from 1988, Céline Dion, was a Canadian citizen at the time.
Born in Switzerland in 1924, Lys grew up with dreams of working in the entertainment industry. After winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 1956, Lys went on to participate for Switzerland twice more in both 1957 and 1958. Lys has had four entries in the contest in total, as in 1956 each country entered two songs.
Lys is a passionate supporter of the Eurovision Song Contest and still travels to the event every year. She said in 2016: "It is incredible, I am so happy to be here. I am so sorry for the people sitting at home to miss out on the atmosphere, it is fabulous!"
These five women have proven to be very influential around the world, and we're happy to celebrate that with them. Who is your favourite female contestant in the Eurovision Song Contest?