Yaron Cohen was born in 1972 in Tel Aviv (Israel). He 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).
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
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