Sandra – Maria Magdalena
Sandra Ann Lauer, commonly known under her stage name Sandra (German pronunciation: [ˈzandʁa]; born 18 May 1962) is a German pop singer, who enjoyed a mainstream popularity in the 1980s and early 1990s with a string of European hit singles, produced by her then-husband and musical partner, Michael Cretu, most notably “(I’ll Never Be) Maria Magdalena” (1985), “In the Heat of the Night” (1985), “Everlasting Love” (1987), “Secret Land” (1988), “Hiroshima” (1990) and “Don’t Be Aggressive” (1992). Her albums Into a Secret Land (1988) and Close to Seven (1992) have won Sandra a high critical acclaim.
Prior to embarking on a solo career, Sandra was the lead singer of an all-female disco trio Arabesque, which had a massive following in Japan and Russia. Also, between 1990 and 2001, she provided vocals on album releases of the very successful group Enigma, which had top 10 hits in North America and United Kingdom. A cult star with a devoted fan base, Sandra remains one of the most popular singers of the 1980s in Continental Europe. During the height of her popularity, she even managed to outsell Madonna in a number of countries around the world. With sales in excess of 30 million records worldwide, Sandra has established her position as the most successful German pop female vocalist.
Sandra won international success in 1985 with a song “(I’ll Never Be) Maria Magdalena”, which topped the charts in 21 countries worldwide and reached top 10 in further five. Her first album, The Long Play (1985), reached number 12 in her home country of Germany and was a top 10 success in Scandinavia. The follow-up single, “In the Heat of the Night”, continued her international success, reaching number two in Germany and top 10 positions in many European countries.The song also earned Sandra second place at the Tokyo Music Festival in 1986. “Little Girl” became the third single from the album in 1986, with the music video filmed in Venice, but met with moderate success. Shortly after the release of The Long Play, Sandra moved to London for six months, where she worked with singing instructor Helena Shelen and took drumming lessons to practice her timing. She also joined a language school, where she worked on her English skills, while she spent weekends in Munich recording new songs.
Sandra’s second studio album, Mirrors, was released in October 1986, with “Innocent Love” chosen as the first single, followed by “Hi! Hi! Hi!”. Both songs were synthpop up-tempo offerings and met with considerable charts success in Europe. Two further singles from the album, ballad “Loreen” and another danceable song “Midnight Man” met only with moderate success. In 1987, Sandra released a cover version of “Everlasting Love”, which had been her favourite song since childhood, to a great international success. The single was a top 10 hit in German-speaking countries and charted within top 20 internationally. The song was included on Sandra’s first retrospective album, Ten on One (The Singles), which met with success and spawned another top 10 single, “Stop for a Minute”.
Sandra and Michael married in January 1988 and relocated from Munich to the Spanish island Ibiza to work on what would be Sandra’s third studio album. Into a Secret Land moved from electro-pop to more sophisticated areas of pop, what was showcased by the first single, “Heaven Can Wait”, a top 20 European hit. Second single, “Secret Land”, met with even greater success and is now considered one of Sandra’s biggest hits while “We’ll Be Together”, released as the third single to a big success, was the first song co-written by Sandra. In order to promote Sandra’s music in Anglosphere, another compilation was released at the end of 1988, Everlasting Love. The album failed to enter charts, but included a PWL remix of the title track which charted at number 45 in the UK.1989 saw the release of the final single from Into a Secret Land, “Around My Heart”, which became another chart hit, while at that point the album itself was her best-selling offering. With animal rights and nature conservation high on her personal agenda, Sandra took part in recording a song “Yes We Can” together with 15 other musicians as a part of the project Artists United for Nature.
Sandra’s fourth album, Paintings in Yellow, was released in March 1990 and became her highest-charting album in her home country.”Hiroshima” was released as the lead single and eventually became one of her biggest chart hits. Danceable “(Life May Be) A Big Insanity” and ballad “One More Night” were released as the second and third single off the album, respectively, but met with modest success. At the end of 1990, Sandra accepted an award for the best-selling German artist at the World Music Awards in Monte Carlo. Also in 1990, the singer contributed vocals to four songs for her husband’s musical project Enigma, including a worldwide number 1 hit “Sadeness”.
In early 1992, Sandra’s fifth album was released, Close to Seven, which continued more mature, less dance-oriented musical style. The album was a remarkable international success as was its lead single, “Don’t Be Aggressive”. However, the second single, “I Need Love”, was Sandra’s first since 1984 to fail to enter charts. Later in 1992, a new compilation was released, titled 18 Greatest Hits. It included most of her previous single songs and a re-recording of “Johnny Wanna Live”, originally from Paintings in Yellow, which was released as a single and became a minor hit in Germany and the Netherlands. 18 Greatest Hits was another commercial success and marked the end of Sandra’s most successful period of her career.
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