About Sharon / Yaron Dana International Cohen, שרון כהן
Sharon Cohen, aka Dana International, is arguably one of the most famous transsexual celebrities in the world. Her career began in 1992, and since then she has released eight albums and three additional compilation albums, positioning herself as one of Israel's most successful musical acts ever. She recently became one of the judges on Israeli Pop Idol, Kokhav Nolad.
- Dana International YouTube See and hear 16 songs
Wikipedia Bio Sharon Cohen (Hebrew: שרון כהן), professionally known as Dana International (דנה אינטרנשיונל; born Yaron Cohen ירון כהן; February 2, 1972) is an Israeli pop singer of Yemenite Jewish ancestry. She has released eight albums and three additional compilation albums, positioning herself as one of Israel's most successful musical acts ever. She is most famous for having won the Eurovision Song Contest 1998 in Birmingham with the song "Diva".
She was born Yaron Cohen to Yemenite parents as the youngest of three children after sister Limor and brother Nimrod. Cohen was named after an uncle who had been killed during a terrorist attack. Though born biologically male, Cohen identified as a female from a very young age.
Cohen wanted to become a singer ever since she was eight-years-old and saw legendary Israeli singer Ofra Haza performing her song "Chai" in the 1983 Eurovision Song Contest. Although the family was quite poor, Cohen's mother worked to pay for Cohen's music lessons, and she has explained that her childhood was rather happy.
Cohen came out as transsexual at the age of 13.
The first tragedy in Cohen's life was the death of her best friend Daniel, who died in an automobile accident. Cohen asserts that Daniel had prophesied that she would someday have a successful singing career, and claims that Daniel's prediction is what pushed her to become the singer she wanted to be.
At 18-years-old, Cohen (still legally male) earned a living as Israel's first drag queen parodying many famous singers and women. During one of her performances, she was discovered by Offer Nissim, one of Israel's most famous DJs, who produced her debut single "Saida Sultana" ("My Name is Not Saida"), a satirical version of Whitney Houston's song "My Name Is Not Susan". The song received considerable airplay and launched her career as a professional singer.
In 1993, International flew to London for male-to-female sex reassignment surgery, and was thus legally able to change her name to Sharon Cohen. Returning home with her new name, that same year Cohen released her first album, entitled Danna International in Israel. Soon after, the album was also released in several other countries including Greece, Jordan, and Egypt. Sharon's stage name Dana International comes from the title track of the album, and was originally spelled with two n:s. Danna International soon became a gold record in Israel.
Umpatampa and Best Female Artist
In 1994 Dana released her second album Umpatampa, which was even more successful and provided further hit singles. The album went platinum in Israel and has sold more than 50,000 copies to date. Because of her popularity and the success of this album, she won the award for Best Female Artist of the Year in Israel.
Eurovision song contest
In 1995, Dana attempted to fulfill her childhood dream of performing in the Eurovision Song Contest. She entered the Eurovision qualifying contest K'dam in Israel with a song entitled "Layla Tov, Eropa" ("Good Night Europe") which finished second in the pre-selections, but became another hit single.
In late 1995, Dana released an E.P. called E.P. Tampa with three new songs and four remixes and special versions of her earlier songs.
In 1996, Dana released her third album, Maganuna. Although this album was less successful than her previous efforts, it still reached gold record sales in Israel and included the hits "Don Quixote," "Waving," and the club smash "Cinque Milla." In 1997, Dana collaborated with the Israeli artist Eran Zur on his album Ata Havera Heli, and together they sang the duet "Shir Kdam-Shnati (Sex Acher)" ("Pre-Bed Song (A Different Kind of Sex)") which became a huge hit.
Diva and mainstream spotlight
Dana was chosen to represent Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest with her song "Diva." Orthodox Jews and others with conservative views were opposed to her appointment and attempted to void her participation in the contest. However, in May 1998, Dana performed "Diva" at the Eurovision Song Contest in Birmingham and took Europe by storm, winning the contest with 174 points. She thus became an international superstar, being interviewed by CNN, BBC, Sky News, and MTV among others.
Dana's own words "the message of reconciliation" were; "My victory proves God is on my side. I want to send my critics a message of forgiveness and say to them: try to accept me and the kind of life I lead. I am what I am and this does not mean I don't believe in God, and I am part of the Jewish Nation."
Dana released "Diva" as a single in Europe and it became a hit, reaching number 11 in the UK charts and the top ten in Sweden, Belgium, Finland, Ireland, and the Netherlands, selling more than 400,000 copies worldwide.
Stage falling, Streisand cover and new albums
In 1999, Dana released Woman In Love, a Barbra Streisand cover, but it was not the hit that "Diva" had been.
In May 1999, Dana again participated in the Eurovision Song Contest held in Jerusalem. Dana was a part of the interval act and sang the Stevie Wonder song "Free". She also presented the award to the winners of the contest but accidentally managed to steal their thunder. Whilst she was carrying the heavy trophy, one of the composers of the winning Swedish entry by mistake stepped on the long trail of her dress and she fell over on stage - in front of a television audience estimated be to one billion or more, arguably making it one of the most memorable moments in the 50-year-long history of the contest.
She released her next album Free in Europe in 1999, which enjoyed moderate success. A few months later Cohen moved back to Israel and started to work on different projects. Israeli and Japanese editions of Free were released in 2000. That same year, an Israeli documentary film was made about Cohen called Lady D.
In 2001, after a break, Cohen released her seventh album Yoter Ve Yoter (More and More). The album put her career in Israel back on track and provided two hits called "I Won" and "After All", which eventually both went gold.
Return to music
After a few years away from show business, together with the relaunch of her official website, a first single of the upcoming album was released in March 2007: "Hakol Ze Letova" ("It's All For the Best"). The second single to be released from the album, "Love Boy", became the most played song on Israeli radio in a decade. It also gained a respectable place on the airplay of the Greek radio station FLY FM 89,7.
The following album, also titled Hakol Ze Letova, was released on , 2007. "At Muhana" was the third single and "Seret Hodi" (feat. Idan Yaniv) the fourth to be released from the album, which became a bestseller in many online stores. The next single released from the album was "Yom Huledet".
On , 2008, Dana gained an additional achievement when the song "Keilu Kan" written and composed by her and performed by Boaz Mauda, was chosen on Kdam Eurovision to represent Israel at Eurovision Song Contest 2008 in Belgrade, Serbia. It came 5th in the semi-final and gained 9th place in the final rank.
Currently, Dana International is in the studio putting the finishing touches on her next album. Dana has also recorded a song called "Mifrats Ha Ahava" ("The Love Bay") for an Israeli version of the TV-show "Paradise Hotel".
She recently collaborated with the Ukranian duo NeAngely (No Angels). They recorded the song "I Need Your Love" together and released a video. In 2008-09 Dana starred in a new reality show produced for the local cellular provider.
Dana campaigned for Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni shortly before 2009 legislative elections in Israel. At a women's political rally in Jerusalem Dana performed a bouncy disco song right beside Livni onstage. Dana announced, "I now formally invite you to the diva sisterhood."
In April 2009 Dana performed in the opening concert of Tel Aviv-Yafo Centennial Year. She performed the song "Lo nirdemet Tel Aviv" (Tel Aviv doesn't fall asleep) in front of 250,000 people.
Also in 2009, Dana International joined the newest season of "Kochav Nolad" (the Israeli version of American Idol) as a judge.
Imdb bio Yaron Cohen was born in 1972 in Tel Aviv (Israel). He underwent gender-reassignment surgery ca. 1993 and changed her name to Sharon Cohen. Released the album "More and More" in 2001 and "Possible Dream" at the beginning of 2003. Winner of Eurovision song contest 1998
Yaron/Sharon was the youngest of three children (he has an older sister, Limor and an older brother, Nimrod) of a Yemenite working family. He studied elementary school and then (Lior and Schmulick Sa'adia) who would become his dancers. His favourite subjects where English and History.
Yaron early realized he belonged to the stage. He liked the Eurovision Contest and followed it, especially when recently deceased Ofra Haza (who had also yemenite roots) represented Israel with the song "Hi", in 1998.
That day he swore himself that he would be there, on that stage, someday. But it wasn't he, but she, who went up to stages showing his feminine voice and superb singing skills as a drag in gay clubs where the 27-years-old DJ (now her personal agent) Ofer Nissim mixed.
He wasn't accepted by ultra-othodox Jews, that still claim that being gay must be punished. Despite this, he had a huge success and was popular. Dana's first hit was the song "My name's not Sa'ida". It was a lampooning cover version of Whitney Houston's song "My name's not Susan" It was listened on radio stations over and over again. People loved her.
Then, in 1993 and in hiding of friends and family, Yaron flew to London and came back as Sharon Cohen, after the gender reassignment surgery.
That same year she released her first album in Israel, although it soon went out to other Middle-West countries such as Egypt and Jordan. It was called like one of her songs, the one from which she took her name. "Danna International" soon became gold in Israel.
Later came her second album, "Umpatampa", and she was awarded Best Female Artist in Israel in 1996. In 1995 she tried to make it for the ESC and entered Israeli Pre-Eurovision Selection (KDAM). She ended 2nd, with the feeling that her friends were right when saying that people would never vote a transsexual to represent their country.
The third album, "Maganona" (which means "Crazy" in Arab) was an answer to Dana's Egyptian and arab-speaking audience. In Egypt, her music had been censored, but five millions illegal copies were sold, without Dana earning a single cent.
But in 1998 her dream finally came true. She was selected by an IBC (Israeli Broadcasting Company) comission to represent the country in that year's ESC. When it was known in Europe that she was a TS, she soon attracted the media attention.
Jean-Paul Gaultier got in touch with her to design the dress she should wear during the performance of the properly called song 'Diva' (although she eventually decided to wear another one and left Gaultier's for the final victory performance).
The Contest was held May 9th in Birmingham Wembley Arena. That year a change was introduced and people could vote for her by phone, and there would not be judges to choose who to send the points to. Maybe that was the reason she won.
Although she knows how to sing and move onstage, all the media attention and the fight of gays to turn her into their icon could have overlapped that fact.
She became famous everywhere, and she was the first Israeli artist to be interviewed on MTV. Everyone wanted her to be on their TV shows in maximum audience times. After her win, she released two albums with her best songs, one that fit in her country's market ("Diva Ha-Osef") and another which fit in European market ("The Album" ).
This last one used songs that Dana International and her management didn't allow to use, so she took Polydor to courts and won the trial. After some time away the public eye, her awaited first international album "Free" was released in Spring 1999. It was released in almost all Europe and in 2000 had its Israeli and Japanese editions. Two singles from this album were released: a cover of Barbra Streisand's "Woman in love" and a cover of Stevie Wonder's album-titling track "Free". Year 2000 brought a lot of promoting dates in Japan and Russia, especially in this last country, where she performed together with singer Philip Kurkov. (Philip Kurkov recorded a Russian version of Diva in 1999 and is about to release a Spanish version as well). IMDb Mini Biography