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Winners of the 1990s - What happened to them?

29 September 2011 at 02:16 CEST

We've had quite a journey so far, looking at all the winners of the 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's. Now we are moving onwards and upwards, slowly edging homeward bound and have reached the 1990s.

This decade marked some huge advances in technology and many changes to the contest itself. 1994 for example was the first year votes were given on screen, with a live satellite connection beaming the images of all the spokepersons around Europe. 

We also saw many new countries joining the contest for the first time in 1993 and 1994 as a result of the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the breakup of Yugoslavia.

Also, if that wasn't enough Ireland set a remarkable record... They won three times in a row! Now, that's going to take a lot of beating. 

In 1999 one of the most radical changes happened to the contest when the orchestra was scrapped in favour of backing tracks, and the rule only allowing entries in the official language(s) of the participating countries was also dropped. 

Take a look below to discover who the winners were between 1990 and 1999 and what they got up to after the contest.

1990 - Toto Cutugno (Italy)

Born in 1943, Toto Cutugno has an impressive CV. He started his career in a band and writing music before going on to participate in the Festival della canzone italiana di Sanremo a total of 13 times. He also won it in 1980 and 1983.

In 1990, Toto participated in Europe's favourite TV show in Zagreb, Yugoslavia (Croatia) where he won with his European themed song, Insieme: 1992. 

 Following the competition, he went on to present the 1991 contest in Rome together with the 1964 winner, Gigliola Cinquetti. He also took part in the Sanremo festival again in 2005. 

1991 - Carola Häggkvist (Sweden)

Carola Maria Häggkvist was born in Stockholm in 1966 and started singing at the tender age of 8 and went on to win a talent competition in 1977. 

Her career, however, didn't really take off until 1983 when she participated in Europe's favourite TV show with the song Främling, achieving a very respectable 3rd place in Munich. 

Following the contest, she experienced phenomenal success at home and abroad, with her album, Främling which set records for the number of sales in Sweden. 

In 1991, Carola entered and won the Eurovision Song Contest again for Sweden in Rome with the song Fångad av en stormvind. One of the most tense moments in the history of contest saw Sweden draw with France's Amina, both receiving 146 points. Both countries received the exact number of 12 points, but Sweden had 5 sets of 10 points versus France's two, which in the end sealed victory for Carola. 

Following her win, Carola went on to great things, releasing many singles and albums, appearing in musicals and on television and being the subject of intensive tabloid coverage as one of Sweden's most sought-after celebrities. 

In what was seen as a bit of a come back, Carola won the right to represent Sweden in the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest in Athens, Greece. Her song Invincible achieved a very respectable 5th place in final. 

Since 2006, Carola has continued to perform and record, also entering the Swedish final in 2008 together with Andreas Johnson but this attempt wasn't as successful as her previous efforts, unfortunately!  

1992 - Linda Martin (Ireland)

Born in Omagh, Northern Ireland in 1953, Linda Martin has had a long and distinguised musical career, which continues to this day. 

She started out with the Belfast band, Chips in the late sixties, who made quite a name for themselves in Ireland. They also appeared in a number of national finals for the Eurovision Song Contest but were never successful. 

In the early 80s, Linda decided to go it alone and formed a solo career for herself, and entered the Irish national final on her own merit a further 4 times. In 1984 she entered with the song Terminal 3 written by Johnny Logan, which won and went on to represent Ireland in Luxembourg. She came second to Sweden's The Herreys. 

In 1992 Linda and Johnny entered another song into the contest, which that took place in Malmö, Sweden. Why Me won the competition for Ireland and Linda's attempts at Euro victory finally paid off. It was also a record for Johnny Logan, who had won the competition 3 times... Twice as an artist, and once as a composer. 

Following on from the competition, Linda has gone on to have a very successful career. Most recently she has been involved in the UK's X-Factor competition and has also found a niche judging televised talent competitions in Irelannd as well as performing in musicals. 

1993 - Niamh Kavanagh (Ireland)


Born in 1968, Niamh Kavanagh was part of a musical family with many musical rolemodels. Early on in her career, Niamh performed on the soundtrack for the film The Commitments

In 1993, Niamh entered the Irish national final with the song In Your Eyes which won with a rather large margin, rocketing her into the spotlight when she went on to win the 1993 Eurovision Song Contest in Millstreet, County Cork. This was the second victory for Ireland in a row and the fifth in total. 

The voting was exciting as Niamh and Sonia from the United Kingdom were in a two horse race for most of it, but in the end Niamh won and enjoyed a home crowd reception. 

Following the competition, In Your Eyes was a hit both in Ireland and also the UK. Niamh also went to record in the USA and appeared on TV shows and stages back home. 

In 2010 after a break from music, Niamh entered Europe's favourite TV show once again with the song, It's For You, which went on to represent Ireland in Oslo. Here she qualified to the final, where she came third last ahead of Belarus and the United Kingdom. 

Niamh has as a result of her participations become much loved by the contest's community of fans, appearing at fan events and always endeavouring to respond to messages of support she receives. 

1994 - Paul Harrington & Charlie McGettigan (Ireland)

Paul Harrington, born in 1960 and Charlie McGettigan born in 1950 were responsible for Ireland's third consecutive win at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1994 with the song Rock 'n' Roll Kids. 

Both men have musical backgrounds with Harrington previously having released material in the early 90s and also working with Michael Flatley, responsible for Riverdance who were made famous by performing in the interval act of the 1994 contest. 

After winning Europe's favourite TV show at the Point Theatre in Dublin, both men went on to have varying degrees of success with both Paul and Charlie recording more music and appearing on various TV shows. 

Charlie also appeared in the Congratulations 50th anniversary show of the Eurovision Song Contest in Copenhagen in 2005. 

1995 - Secret Garden (Norway)

Secret Garden is an Irish-Norwegian due comprising of Rolf Løvland and violinist Fionnuala Sherry. The group has had an amazing amount of success following the competition.

Rolf Løvland is probably most known for his previous work as a composer of Norwegian national final and Eurovision Song Contest entries. He in fact wrote the winner of the 1985 contest with the song La det swinge performed by Bobbysocks.

Fionnuala Sherry started playing the violin at a very young age and went on to work with a number of very successful artists and groups including Sinéad O'Connor, Chris de Burgh and U2. 

In 1995 Secret Garden entered Europe's favourite TV show for Norway with the self-penned song, Nocturne. The song was originally an instrumental only number but lyrics and a vocalist by the name of Gunnhild Tvinnereim joined Rolf and Fionnuala on stage in Dublin. Here, Norway won the competition convincingly and had success with the song. 

Following the competition, Secret Garden has had global success, including charting for a whole two months in the United States. The group have released a number of albums and Rolf Løvland composed one of the world's most covered songs, You Raise Me Up, which has been performed by amongst others Westlife, Sissel Kyrkjebø, Josh Groban and Il Divo.

However, Irelands participant in 2006, Brian Kennedy was the first artist to perform this song. 

1996 - Eimear Quinn (Ireland)

Born in Dublin, Eimear Quinn was part of a very musical family. She started singing choral music from a very young age and joined her first choir at just 4 years old. 

In 1995 she became a solist in the chamber choir Anúna, which is where she was discovered by Brendan Graham. He suggested she sang his song, The Voice, which went on to represent Ireland at the 1996 Eurovision Song Contest in Oslo, Norway. 

Here, Eimear won the competition quite convincingly bringing Ireland their 4th victory in 5 years, with Norway breaking this winning streak in 1995. 

Following her victory, Eimear was much sought after both in Europe and further afield in countries such as Australia and the United States. Since then she has gone from strength to strength, continuing to record and also becoming a successful composer. 

In 2007, Eimear appeared in a documentary about her music on broadcaster RTÉ. Most recently she performed from HM Queen Elizabeth II in May 2011 during her historical state visit to the Republic of Ireland. 

1997 - Katrina and the Waves (United Kingdom)

Katrina and the Waves were one of the most successful acts to perform in the Eurovision Song Contest, with a long and successful career preceding their participation. 

The group, featuring American singer Katrina Leskanich and the band The Waves can trace their roots back to 1978 when Katrina joined. Their beginnings were humble, performing small gigs in the UK. Fellow band member Kimberley Rew lead the band initially before gradually handing over the singing responsibilities to Katrina. 

Initially the band had success in Canada with their first album, Walking On Sunshine in 1983. Following on from this and spurred on by the success in Canada, the album was reworked and Walking On Sunshine was released in 1985 all over the world, become a huge hit including in the US and the UK where it reached the top 10 in both countries. 

After this success, the band experienced a bit of a slump until Kimberley Rew wrote the song Love Shine A Light, which then went on to become the United Kingdom's entry in the 1997 edition of Europe's favourite TV show. The song won by a landslide with a (then) record margin of 70 over Ireland, which came second. This record has since been broken by Norway's Alexander Rybak. 

After achieving the UK's 5th victory at the contest, Love Shine A Light gave Katrina and the Waves their best ever chart position in the UK, peaking at number 3. It also had big success also over Europe.

Since the competition the band has disbanded after not being able to keep their post-victory momentum. Katrina has gone on to present the Congratulations 50th anniversary show of the Eurovision Song Contest in Copenhagen in 2005 and in the same year participated in the Swedish national final, Melodifestivalen. 

Other than the above, Katrina makes occasional appearances at Eurovision Song Contest related events and has recorded new material as a soloist. Most recently she and her ex-band colleagues have been involved legal action against an American presidential candiate for using Walking On Sunshine in her campaign material.  

1998 - Dana International (Israel)

Dana International was born as Yaron Cohen in Tel Aviv in 1972. Although born a male, Yaron discovered from an early age that he was not happy with this identity and after having a happy upbringing decided to come out as a female at the young age of 13. 

Dana International's biggest idol was singer Ofra Haza who represented Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1983 with the song Chai

In the early 90s Dana International became Israel's first drag queen and was discovered by a well known DJ, releasing her first single in 1993. It was also at this time when she had surgery and legally changed her name to Sharon Cohen. Following this her first album was released catapulting her to success in Israel and neighbouring countries. 

Having previously tried to enter the Eurovision Song Contest in 1995 with the song Layla Tov, Eropa, Dana decided to give it another go in 1998 where she was chosen to represent Israel with the song Diva. At the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham, she won after some very exciting voting and became a huge star and appeared on television not only in Europe but also in the United States and other countries around the world. 

Following her success in Birmingham, Dana has had a very distinguished career, appearing in the Congratulations 50th anniversary show and also composing Israel's entry in 2008, which finished 9th in the final. 

Her career has also seen her appearing on television and recording new material. She has also very recently represented Israel once again in Düsseldorf for the 2011 edition of Europe's favourite TV show. However, her song Ding Dong failed to make it to the final. 

1999 - Charlotte Nilsson (Sweden)

Born in 1974 as Anna Jenny Charlotte Nilsson, Charlotte had a long career before taking part in the Eurovision Song Contest. 

Her career started at the age of 13, when she performed with the dansband the Bengt Ingvars. She then continued to work with another band, the Anders Engbergs before joining the group Wizex in 1997. This period of her life gave her some of her best success at home in Sweden and set her up for entering the Swedish national final, Melodifestivalen in 1999. 

In Jerusalem in 1999, Charlotte won the contest with the song Take Me To Your Heaven, sung in English as the language rules had been relaxed this years. The song gave her a lot of success and she got to travel around Europe and the middle east on promotional trips. 

Following on from her win, Charlotte released more music and presented Melodifestivalen in 2003 and 2004. She also got married and changed her name to Perrelli in 2003. 

In 2008, Charlotte decided to take part in Melodifestivalen once again, this time as an artist. Her song Hero won the competition by a small margin and went on to represent Sweden in Belgrade. The song was one of the early favourites to win the entire competition, but only managed to achieve an 18th place in the final. 

In the final part of the the series we will take a look at all of the winners of the Millennium so far from 2000 to 2011.