Dina Carroll

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Dina Carroll – Part One

Just what has happened to the biggest selling British female artist of the 1990’s?

Incredibly twenty-five years have passed since the release of “So Close”, British soul diva Dina Carroll’s debut album. Released in January 1993, it spent a year and a half on the album chart, peaked at No.2 and sold over a million and a half copies in the UK alone. It wound up the years third biggest selling album and went on to be nominated for the Mercury Music Prize.

Not many artists are afforded such an illustrious start to their career, so what happened next and where IS Dina Carroll now? Read on…

Geraldine Carroll was born in Newmarket, Suffolk in August 1968, of mixed Scottish and African descent. She began singing at the age of five and won a local talent contest at the age of thirteen. At sixteen she was signed to a small record label Streetwise and as part of a group called Masquerade, released two singles in 1985, “Set It Off” and “One Nation”, both of which made a very small dent in the British charts.

In 1989 she signed with Jive Records as a solo artist, releasing the singles “People All Around The World” and a funky-dance version of Dionna Warwick’s classic “Walk On By“. These failed to make any impact commercially, despite lots of marketing and promotion.

By 1990, she had caught the eye of one of the partners of First Avenue Management and was immediately snapped up. At the time they were working with a new dance/production duo called Quartz, who took an immediate shine to Dina and went into the recording studio with her.

Their first collaboration was another cover, this time Carole King’s “It’s Too Late”, which was released in February 1991. The song was massively promoted in the clubs and to the wider world and took itself to No.8 in the UK singles chart as well as topping the dance chart.

Quartz’s debut album “Perfect Timing” was released the following month and also included a second song recorded with Dina “Naked Love (Just Say You Want Me)”. This was released in May 1991 and peaked at No.39 in the UK.

With commercial success now in the bag, Dina was signed to A&M Records. She formed a new, and ultimately long-term partnership, with songwriter and producer Nigel Lowis and the pair set about writing and recording for a new solo project for Carroll.

The first taster of this new fusion came in June 1992 with the release of the dance anthem “Ain’t No Man”, which quickly established a following and wasted no time in breaking the singles chart and both the dance and club charts across Europe, reaching No.16 in the UK.

Her next single was co-written and produced by Robert Clivilles and David Cole, better known as C+C Music Factory. “Special Kind Of Love” continued the up-tempo dance theme and the success by charting high in singles, dance and club charts in many countries. It matched “Aint No Man” in the UK reaching No.16 in September.

Her debut album (originally titled “Dina Carroll”) was to of come next but was postponed till after the next single, the gorgeous soul ballad “So Close” was released in time for Christmas. Peaking at No.20 in the UK, it also found favour Stateside reaching No.95 on the Billboard singles chart.

With its new title of “So Close”, Dina’s eagerly awaited debut long player was released in the first week of 1993 and entered the UK album chart at No.6. Without any fuss or too much attention, it spent week after week, moving up and down the chart and selling like hotcakes. By June it was certified platinum and by October had sold half a million copies. By now it had reached a new peak of No.4 and by the end of the year had climbed yet more to reach No.2. It ended the year having sold over 700,000 copies in the UK and was the third biggest seller of the year as well as the biggest selling album by a female artist. The success continued into 1994 with Dina being nominated for and winning Best British Female at that years Brit Awards. By now “So Close” had topped a million and spent a total of five weeks at the No.2 position. It became the biggest selling debut album by a British female artist until Dido’s first offering “No Angel” in 1999.

1993 would see more chart success with another outstanding soul ballad “This Time” (UK No.23).

And the remixed dance floor filler “Express” (UK No.12).

That Autumn a sixth single was lifted from the album and given a glorious makeover. “Don’t Be A Stranger” was most people’s favourite track on the album, and with a full string orchestra, Dina re-recorded the song. It would become her biggest yet, spending three months on the UK top 40 and peaking at No.3, the 23rd biggest selling single of the year.

Dina was by now hot property and hit the road celebrating her amazing voice and success by playing to sell-out crowds across the UK.

That Christmas, to everyone’s surprise, Dina recorded “The Perfect Year” from Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s stage production of ‘Sunset Boulevard’. With Christmas splashed all over it with sparkles, the song was a huge success reaching No.5 in the UK and crowning the end of what had truly been THE perfect year for her.

For Part Two click here!

Take a look at all our other Where Are They Now posts and don’t forget to follow the playlist!

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Written by Christopher Smith

So perhaps you’ve read an article or two that I’ve written and wondered “just who is this character?”! Well I thought maybe it would be time to introduce myself and what I’m all about. Well it’s all about the music! Having been born in the late 1970’s I was heavily influenced by my parent’s love of ‘popular’ music and rock and roll of the 1950’s and 60’s. My Mother always said she should of married Elvis and my father was, and is still, in love with Sandie Shaw! But while my Dad’s tastes stopped in about 1967, my Mum carried on loving music throughout the 70’s, 80’s and beyond. My first memory was playing on the floor whilst my Mother was ironing one day with the radio on, and hearing ABBA’s “Super Trouper” dancing my nappy off to it! Maybe that’s where it all went wrong…?! Having been subjected to all and sundry in my infant years, I finally found my feet in the mid-1980’s and began ‘partying’ to the likes of Culture Club, Stevie Wonder(!), Elkie Brooks and Bananarama to name but a few! The year 1987 would have a profound effect on my listening tastes and from thereon in my life would be dominated with buying and listening to music. Any number of outstanding songs were released and listened to that year, most notably “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and “La Isla Bonita”. That Summer my mind was completely taken over with music and sounds I’d never heard before and I was totally taken in by it all. My father would say “whaaar rubbish you got on naaaaao?” (I’m from Norfolk!) but I was hooked. And it continued so for the rest of the decade and the next. At the beginning of 1988 I ‘met’ my true love and the singer I’ve worshipped more than any other artist or group. You may know of her. She’s from Australia…! Aside from pop music, my tastes are many and varied and continues to grow and expand as I ‘mature’ in age. I’ve always been heavily interested in films and in particular the mechanics of film making and of course film music, so scores and subsequently orchestral music takes up a lot of my tastes and collection. 90’s dance and club tunes also takes up much of the space in my head and I’m surprised my brain has stopped shaking from the years of abuse it took being dragged to nightclubs, often three times a week in my 20’s! I find with each year that passes I regress back to my youth and of course the 1980’s. 80’s music dominates and the lust to see as many 80’s acts and singers play live now is insatiable. I’m still getting into the groove as much as every breath I take, but I’m never gonna give up listening to my heart and pumping up the volume, simply because I LOVE MUSIC…any kind of music!

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