Saturday, May 29, 2010

Black singers in the Eurovision Song Contest

 Imaani from the UK singing "Where Are You?"
Black singers have participated in the Eurovision Song Contest since 1966. The Eurovision Song Contest is the annual song contest of the European Broadcasting Union and member states of Europe.

The first Black singer who won the contest was Dave Benton, he won the contest with Estonian rock singer Tanel. They represented Estonia in 2001.  The first Black singer who performed in the contest was Milly Scott, she represented the Netherlands in 1966. In this year’s contest singer Matador competed for France, he finished 12th place.

The competition is broadcasted throughout Europe, but also in Australia, Canada, Egypt, Hong Kong, India, Jordan, Korea, New Zealand and the United States, even though these countries do not participate. See the website of Eurovision Song Contest here.

Below a list of some of the entries of the Estonia, UK, The Netherlands, France, Portugal and Israel. The ranking is based on a final of 25 countries.


Winner of Eurovision copenhagen 2001

Dave benton & Tanel - "Everybody" - 2001

In 2001 Dave benton performed with budding Estonian rock singer Tanel Padar and boyband 2XL to win the Eurovision Song Contest 2001 with their song "Everybody". Benton was born on the Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba.


Jade Ewen - "It's My Time" - 2009

The United Kingdom was a part of the "Big Four", so the song was entered directly into the final of the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest, held on 16 May 2009 in Moscow. The show received an average of 7.8 million viewers. She finished in 5th place.

Andy Abraham - "Even If" - 2008

According to betting site, the odds for the song to win the Eurovision Song Contest 2008 were 100/1. In the end, the song reached last place at 25th, with 14 points. The last place triggerd a response from Terry Wogan, he blamed "racist" Eastern Europeans for Britain's dismal showing in the Eurovision Song Contest. Read full story here.

Imaani - "Where Are You?" - 1998

"Where Are You?" was the United Kingdom entry to the Eurovision Song Contest 1998, held in Birmingham, United Kingdom. It was sung by Imaani Saleem (Melanie Crosdale), the first black singer for the UK. She almost won. The song received 166 points, placing second in a field of 25. Imaani was born in Nottingham. Interesting detail is that she is one of the regular singers of the famous London Acid Jazz band Incognito.


Silver Convention - Telegram - 1977

Two members of the trio Silver Convention were black: Ramona Wulf (a daugher of an AA soldier and a German) and a New Yorker Rhonda Heath. The group finished 8the place. 

The Netherlands

Glennis Grace Netherlands – “My Impossible Dream” - 2005

Glennis Grace (born in Amsterdam) won the national contest in the Netherlands for the Eurovision song contest 2005, but didn’t make in to final. She had to leave the contest in the semi-final.

Edsilia Rombley - "Hemel en Aarde" ("Heaven and Earth") - 1998

Edsilia Rombley pulled the Netherlands out of semi-finals to the finals. Only the low ranking countries of the previous year had to compete in the semi-finals. In the finals she came in fourth place in a tele voting contest with the song “Hemel en aarde" ("Heaven and earth"). It was the best placing the Netherlands had seen since their last win in 1975. Edisila was born in Amsterdam and is of Dutch Caribbean descent.

Maxine and Franklin Brown- "De Eerste Keer" ("The first time" - 1996

Maxine & Franklin Brown represented the Netherlands at the Eurovision Song Contest 1996. Their song “De eerste keel” (“The First Time”) came 7th with 78 points.

Ruth Jacott - "Vrede" ("Peace") - 1993

In 1993 Ruth Jacott was the second black female singer for the Netherland. She came in sixth place with the “song “Vrede" ("Peace"). Ruth Jaccot is of Surinamese descent.

Humphrey Campbell "Wijs Me de Weg" ("Show Me the Way") - 1992

Humphrey Campbell performing "Wijs Me de Weg" ("Show Me the Way"), the Dutch entry at the 1992 Eurovision Song Contest. He finished 9th place. Campbell is of Surinamese origins.

Milly Scott - "Fernando en Filippo" - 1966

Milly Scott was the first black singer for the Netherlands in 1966. She finished 15th place. Scott is of Surinamese descent.


Matador - "Allez Ola Olé" (2010)

Matador, born Jessy Kimbangi in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, represented France this year. Matador mixes zouk, dancehall, reggae, and hiphop, building on American, African and Caribbean influences. France finished 12th place.

Joëlle Ursull - "White and Black Blues" - 1990

France's entry in the 1990 Eurovision Song Contest "White and Black Blues" by Joëlle Ursull who got the 2nd place. Usull is of Guadeloupean origins.

France is one of the most successful countries in the Eurovision Song Contest and has entered the competition fifty-two times since their debut at the very first contest in 1956. However, in recent years, the French results have been somewhat disappointing. Since 1998, when the televoting was invented, France has almost always been in the bottom-10 countries in the final. (Wikipedia.)


Eduardo Nascimento - "O vento mudou" - 1967

In 1967 Eduardo Nascimento entered the Portuguese Eurovision selection contest, the Festival da Canção, as a solo artist with the song "O vento mudou" ("The Wind Changed"). He won the event by a comfortable margin, and went forward to represent Portugal in the 12th Eurovision Song Contest, held on 8 April in Vienna, where "O vento mudou" finished in joint 12th place of the 17 entries

Sara Tavares – “Chamar a música” -1994

Tavares won the Portuguese selection for the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest. With the song Chamar a música (Call my music), She achieved an eighth position in Dublin, which is still one of the best Portuguese results in the contest ever. After her appearance in the contest, she went on to become a famous artist in her country, and later on in Europe.


Afro-Dite - "Never let you go" - 2002

Afro-dite is a Swedish pop group made up of three pop singers. The group consists of Blossom Tainton-Lindquist, Gladys del Pilar and Kayo Shekoni. Afro-dite reached the 8th place


Eddie Butler - "Together We Are One" - 2006

Eddie Butler was the Israeli entry for the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest, with soul ballad "Together We Are One". He finished 23th place.

Butler was born in the Negev Israel. Butler's parents are Americans, and members of the Black Hebrews African-American community that believes they are a lost tribe of Israel. His mother and father came to Israel for a visit 37 years ago and decided to stay.

Black singers Eurovision Song Contest overview

1966 - Netherlands: Milly Scott - "Fernando en Filippo" (15th)
1967 - Portugal: Eduardo Nascimento - "O vento mudou" (12th)
1977 - Germany: Silver Convention - Telegram - (8th)
1981 - Denmark: Debbie Cameron & Tommy Seebach - Krøller eller ej -(11th)
1990 - France: Joëlle Ursull - "White and Black Blues" (2nd)
1992 - France: Kali - "Monté la riviè".-(8th)
1992 - Netherlands: Humphrey Campbell "Wijs Me de Weg" ("Show Me the Way") (9th)
1993 - Netherlands: Ruth Jacott - "Vrede" ("Peace") - 1993 (6th)
1994 - Portugal: Sara Tavares – “Chamar a música” (8th)
1995 - Austria: Stella Jones - Die Welt dreht sich verkehrt. - (13th)
1995 - Portugal: Tó Cruz - Baunilha e chocolate - (21st)
1996 - Netherlands: Maxine and Franklin Brown- "De Eerste Keer" ("The first time") (7th)
1998 - France: Marie-Line - Oú aller? - (23rd)
1998 - Netherlands: - Edsilia Rombley - "Hemel en Aarde" ("Heaven and Earth") 1998 (4th)
1998 - UK: Imaani - "Where Are You?" (2nd)
1999 - Bosnia-Herzegovina: Dino & Béatrice – Putnici -(7th)
1999 - Israel: Eden - Happy Birthday - (5th)
1999 - UK: 1999 - Precious - Say It Again- (12th)Precious - Say It Again- (12th)
2000 - Austria: The Rounder Girls - All To You - (14th)
2001 - Estonia: Dave benton & Tanel - "Everybody" (1st)
2002 - Sweden: Afro-Dite - "Never let you go" (8th)
2005 – UK: Javine -Touch My Fire - (22nd)
2005 - Netherlands: Glennis Grace Netherlands – “My Impossible Dream” (semi-final)
2006 - Isreal: Eddie Butler - "Together We Are One" (23th)
2008 - UK: Andy Abraham - "Even If" (23th)
2009 - UK: Jade Ewen - "It's My Time" - 2009 (5th)
2010 - France: Matador - "Allez Ola Olé" - 2010 (12th)

* At the Eurovision songcontest in 1966 the Swedish singers were accompanied on flute by the Black American jazz musician Sahib Shihab. He is probably the first African-American, who participated in the event. 

* This list was updated on 13 May 2014. 

This may not be the complete list of singers
See downloadable updated list here 


  1. You missed Portugal in 1967 with Eduardo Nascimento

  2. Well, as long as Milly Scott (who sang fabulously "Fernando en Philippo" is of Surinamese origin, I think that we can say that actually the first Afro-Europe singer at the Eurovision was Eduado Nascimento who was born in Angola.
    Anyhow is interesting to read that between 1967 and 1990 there were no black singers at ESC at all.
    And don't forget the black musician who play the trumpet for Sweden in 1966, the same year in which Milly Scott represented NL

  3. Your list lacks:

    - Germany 1977 - Silver Convention - Telegram - (8th)
    Two members of the trio Silver Convention were black: Ramona Wulf (a daugher of an AA soldier and a German) and a New Yorker Rhonda Heath.

    - Denmark 1981 - Debbie Cameron & Tommy Seebach - Krøller eller ej -(11th)
    Deborah (Debbie) Cameron is an American singer of Bahamian descent who has had a career in music in Denmark.

    - France 1992 - Kali - "Monté la riviè".-(8th)
    The French entry in the Eurovision Song Contest 1992 was performed in Antillean Creole and French (the first occasion on which the French entry was not sung almost entirely in French) by Martinique-born singer Kali.

    - Austria 1995 - Stella Jones - Die Welt dreht sich verkehrt. - (13th)
    Stella Jones is a daughter of Christine Jones, blues singer, and Carmell Jones, American jazz trumpet player.

    - Portugal 1995 - Tó Cruz - Baunilha e chocolate - (21st)
    Tó Cruz is a Portuguese singer of Cape Verdean descent.

    - France 1998 - Marie-Line - Oú aller? - (23rd)
    Marie Line has French-Caribbean roots. At the event she obtained for the time the lowest ranking for France (only this year France got last for the first time in the contest history).

    - UK 1999 - Precious - Say It Again- (12th)
    The single really took off and propelled the girl group. It entered the UK singles chart at the #6 position.

    -Israel 1999 - Eden - Happy Birthday - (5th)
    Half of the group were brothers Gabriel and Eddi Butler, members of the Black Hebrew community in Dimona. Their parents came to Israel from Chicago in 1968 and decided to stay. In 1999 the community hoped their participation at Eurovision would help focus attention on their plight, mostly on the denial of citizenship by the Interior Ministry and the restriction to the temporary-resident status.

    -Bosnia-Herzegovina 1999 - Dino & Béatrice – Putnici -(7th)
    Béatrice Poulot is a French singer, born in Réunion, east of Madagascar, about 200 kilometres (120 mi) southwest of Mauritius, the nearest island.

    -Austria 2000 - The Rounder Girls - All To You - (14th)
    Two singers of the trio were black: Kim Cooper from New York and Lynne Kieran from London. The girls enjoyed major success and popularity in Austria in the 90′s and early 00′s.

    -UK 2005 – Javine -Touch My Fire - (22nd)
    Javine Hylton was born to a white mother and black father and grew up in London. When "Touch My Fire" was released as a single, it became Javine's fifth consecutive Top 20 hit, reaching Number 18 in the UK Singles Chart.

    The list should have 36 performers at the moment.
    I'll let you know if I discover some more...

  4. milica, thanks! This is very important information.

  5. You're welcome. It took me a day of research lol

  6. Also, make sure to check the Danmark 1981entry in subtitled version (like ). It was the first song about racial tolerance in Eurovision. Before this research I used to think it was the France 1990 act (I remember that one, it was a huge hit at the time)...

  7. Netherlands 1970 - Hearts of Soul
    Belgium 1982 - Stella

  8. 2011 - Stella Mwangi - Norway
    2011 - Senit - San Marino

  9. Hi CA5P3R, check out the list below

  10. Yu need to update this data, coz 1978 one member of a band Harmony were a black guy


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