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Tales behind singers and songs.

Country: United Kingdom. Song: Where Are You? Performed by: Imaani. Nottingham-born Imaani, aged 25, was discovered by a record producer at a Tube station. Her name means Faith in Arabic. Her song was co-written by Scott English, who also composed Barry Manilow's Mandy!

Country: Croatia. Song: May the Sun Never Rise. Performed by: Danijela. Danijela is a star in her homeland and comes from a family of talented singers. The song's composer, Petar Graso, produced a debut album that broke Croatian records, selling 70,000 c opies.

Country: Greece. Song: Secret Illusion. Performed by: Dionyssia Karoki. The Greek team have all had major career changes. Dionyssia studied accounting and computer programming, the composer was a mathematician and the lyricist a geologist.

Country: France. Song: Where to Go. Performed by: Marie-Line. Marie-Line also composed the song. She has French-Caribbean roots and started as a backing singer in her brothers' group, Soul Afro Punk, before singing her own songs in piano bars.

Country: Spain. Song: What Will I Do Without You. Performed by: Mikel Herzog. Mikel comes from Bergara and is a popular ballad singer. His song includes one line which, translated into English, is "So many kisses I haven't given to you".

Country: Switzerland. Song: Just Leave Him Be. Performed by: Gunvor. Gunvor's role model is Celine Dion, who won the contest 10 years ago - despite not being Swiss. Gunvor has Swedish-Italian origins and is a Swiss tap-dancing champion seven times over.

Country: Slovakia. Song: A Prayer. Performed by: Katarina Hasprova. Katarina's mother is a welnown Slovak actress and singer and her father a TV director. She has performed in several musicals including West Side Story and Hair. The lyricist is a scienti st on the side.

Country: Poland. Song: When Love Turns to Hate. Performed by: Sixteen. This band are meteoric in their homeland and are currently at number one in the Polish charts. They are big Eurovision fans and say: "It shows what's happening in showbusiness inEuro pe."

Country: Israel. Song: Diva. Performed by: Dana International. Dana has grabbed all the headlines for being a woman who used to be a man. But her singing has made her a star - her albums go platinum in Israel. Her song's chorus goes "Viva to the Diva".

Country: Germany. Song: Guildo Loves You. Performed by: Guildo Horn. Guildo is Eurovision's wildest entry, with a mad stage act, colourful costumes and odd hairdo. He's become a cult star in Germany with his band, Orthopaedic Stockings.

Country: Malta. Song: The One That I Love. Performed by: Chiara. Chaira shot to fame as a folk singer and has appeared in such musicals as The Sound of Music and Jesus Christ Superstar. The song's lyricist is a member of the Maltese Poets' Society and ha s penned hymns.

Country: Hungary. Song: Tomorrow Won't Be Blue. Performed by: Charlie. Ballet and playing the trumpet were the early ambitions of Charlie. Last week he was presented with the Republic Cross of Hungary for his contribution to the music industry.

Country: Slovenia. Song: Will the Gods Set Me Free. Performed by: Vili Resnik. A husband and wife team - who met through Eurovison - wrote this song. Composer Matjaz Vlasic got his inspiration from his wife Ursa, who also performs with rock singer and gu itarist Vili.

Country: Ireland. Song: Is Always Over Now? Performed by: Dawn. Ireland have won a record seven times, so the pressure was always on 21-year-old Dawn. A former chorister and hairdresser from Dundalk, she is the eldest of eight children.

Country: Portugal. Song: If I Could Only Hold You. Performed by: Alma Lusa. Alma Lusa, a group created for the contest, includes Pedro Soares, who plays the Portuguese bagpipes. Conductor Mike Sergeant, a Londoner, has represented Portugal four times.

Country: Romania. Song: I Do Believe. Performed by: Malina Olinescu. Malina won a Romanian singing festival when she was 20 and was invited to take part in a TV show called Stars' School. Lyricist Liliana Stefan graduated from the Faculty of Energetics!

Country: Cyprus. Song: Genesis. Performed by: Michael Hajiyanni. It was third time lucky for Michael who has twice come second in the Cypriot Song for Europe finals. He is currently finishing his military service. Genesis's lyrics include the line "The p rimordial cry".

Country: Netherlands. Song: Heaven and Earth. Performed by: Edsilia Rombley. Edsilia has already sung in front of 40,000 people at the football club Ajax. Her song starts "Holland was just cool and cold and especially the weather... she is rather underra ted, the force of nature".

Country: Sweden. Song: Love Is. Performed by: Jill Johnson. Sweden's ballad was inspired by the death of Princess Diana. Jill started singing in a choir at four and was later discovered at a talent show. Her first solo hit record was called Jag har havet ett stenkast fran mig.

Country: Belgium. Song: Say Yes. Performed by: Melanie Cohl. Melanie is only 16 but started playing the violin at six and has been performing for eight years. The lyrics of Say Yes include "The world needs reconstruction, Come for life, come for an hour" .

Country: Finland. Song: Widths. Performed by: Edea. Edea's haunting music is an echo of times past, drawing inspiration from the Vikings. Singer Marika Krook is a famous Finnish actress, singer and dancer who is studying opera at the Sibelius Academy.

Country: Norway. Song: Summer For Ever. Performed by: Lars A Fredriksen. Lars is the heart-throb of the contest with his blonde hair and blue eyes. He plays the piano and is a soloist with the acclaimed Oslo Gospel Choir, which has sold more than 700,000 CDs.

Country: Estonia. Song: Children of the Sea. Performed by: Koit Toome. Koit specialised in jazz piano and used to sing with the Tallinn Boys' Choir, which has performed in churches around the world. He sings in the pop group Code One.

Country: Turkey. Song: You Cannot Forget. Performed by: Tuzmen. In 1988, Tuzmen was part of the World Choir formed for the Calgary Winter Olympics. He is also one of Turkey's national swimmers. The composer is a doctor who plays in the Turkish basketball league!

Country: The Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia. Song: Somebody Stop the Dawn. Performed by: Vlado Janevski. The country with the longest name entered Vlado, its most successful pop artist. His lyrics include: "The wine and you break me in two".
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:May 10, 1998
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