Dana International “Ding Dong”
Sharon Cohen (Hebrew: שרון כהן), professionally known as Dana International (Hebrew: דנה אינטרנשיונל, born Yaron Cohen, 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”.
Born biologically male, Dana discovered that she was a transsexual at an early age, coming out when she was 13. Undergoing sex reassignment surgery in 1993, it was that year that she released her first album, Danna International, upon which she based her stage name. Consolidating her initial commercial success with the albums Umpatampa (1994) and Maganuna (1996), in 1998 she was selected to represent Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest with her song “Diva”; subsequently winning the international competition, Dana came to public attention throughout Europe. She would come back to Eurovision in 2011, but lost out in the semi-finals.
Following this up with the albums Free (1999), Yoter VeYoter (2001), HaHalom HaEfshari (2002) and Hakol Ze Letova (2008), in 2011 she once more represented Israel in Eurovision, this time with the song “Ding Dong”, although failed to make it into the final. That same year she also became a judge on the Israeli television music talent contest Kokhav Nolad.
Dana International has been credited with being one of the world’s best known transsexuals. In 2005, a poll by the Israeli news website Ynet to list those perceived as the 200 Greatest Israelis saw Dana voted the 47th-greatest Israeli of all time.