Zorana "Lola" Novakovic, who represented former Yugoslavia in the 1962 Eurovision Song Contest in Luxembourg with the song Ne Pali Svetla U Sumrak (Don't Turn The Lights In The Twilight), has died on 3rd of April, aged 81. She was known as "Balkan diva" and "The Queen of Evergreen music" in the 1960s and 70s, not only in former Yugoslavia but also in Russia, Middle East and Japan.
Lola Novakovic was born in Belgrade on 23rd of April, 1935 (back then in Kingdom of Yugoslavia). Her music career began in 1957 when she started to work as a vocalist at the Radio Belgrade, and in the same year Lola went to Leipzig, Germany, where she represented Yugoslavia at the international music fair. She gained incredible popularity in her home country just in few months. Her name was constantly on the covers of Belgrade's dailies that year.
Her first record with the songs like Alisa U Zemlji Cuda (Alice in Wonderland) and Babalu (in Spanish) was a huge success. That's how Lola Novakovic got on her first European tour, performing at the venues in Basel, Berlin, Dresden, Prague and Warsaw. A year later, Serbian schlager star decided to visit Lebanon, where she unexpectedly spent a year and a half.
When she returned to Belgrade, Lola was already one of the biggest music sensations in Yugoslavia of all times. The tickets for her concert were sold in less than two hours, and the performance at the Zagreb's music festival in 1962 is considered to be one of the most memorable moments of her career. While she was performing her song Ti Nisi Dosao (You Didn't Come), overwhelmed by the excitement and support of the audience, Lola started to cry despite the broadcast. But the whole audience stood up and rewarded her with a 10-minute-applause.
1962 was a great year for Zorana Lola Novakovic as she was chosen to represent Yugoslavia at the Eurovision Song Contest. Her emotional entry Ne Pali Svetla U Sumrak and her velvety voice got Lola the fourth place. The Grand Prix Eurovision de la Chanson has boosted Lola's career even more as she went on a tour again, but this time to Russia and Japan.
Lola also appeared in several TV shows and film productions during her career. Nevertheless, since 2000 she was a permanent member of the Terazije Theatre in Belgrade, touring across the country and abroad. Still, Zorana Lola Novakovic will be mostly remembered as a great schlager performer, considering that here are at least 500 songs and performances recorded during her 60 years long career. Some of those recordings were published on more than 50 albums.
The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia participated in the Eurovision Song Contest 27 times. It was the first communist country that joined the contest in 1961. The country won the Eurovision Song Contest just once - in 1989, the same year the Berlin Wall fell, and the Iron Curtain started to crumble. It was the pop band, Riva, from Croatia that took home the trophy. Soon after that, the Balkan Wars began, and Yugoslavia broke apart.