She covered Bonnie Tyler, she sang in Eurovision and she won The Weakest Link! But where is Nicki French now?
by Christopher Smith
Nicola Sharon French was born in Carlisle in 1964 and began her music career singing backing vocals on Irish singer Rose-Marie’s 1992 album “Emotional Exposure”. The following year she recorded a cover of Bonnie Tyler’s massive 1983 hit “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” but this failed to chart, surprisingly. The song was re-released the following year (1994) and this time made No.54 in the UK.
She signed to Mike Stock’s label Love This Records at the end of 1994 and the song was given a complete overhaul and re-re-released in January 1995, and third time lucky certainly proved to be the case. “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” took off like a fire cracker and this time reached No.5 in the UK, eventually selling more than 250,000 copies there. The song was even more successful away from the UK, topping the chart in four territories and making the top ten in a further nine, including the US, where it reached No.2!
Her follow up “For All We Know” was released in April 1995 but stalled at No.42 in the UK. The song was not released in The States due to disputes between her UK record company and her US publishers, and only reached No.89 in Australia.
Nicki’s debut album “Secrets” was released soon after and reached No.151 in the US and No.95 in Australia, as well as charting in Japan, Brazil and Canada, but sadly not in her home country. The album went on to sell 50,000 worldwide. Two further singles were released, “Did You Ever Really Love Me?” (UK No.55) and “Is There Anybody Out There?” (UK No.89).
She signed with Logic Records in 1997 and released the single “Te Amo”, which made No.4 in Brazil but again failed to chart in the UK. Her second album “French Revolution” came in 1998, but despite charting high in Japan and Taiwan, Nicki was dropped by Logic due to poor sales back home in the UK.
Nicki remerged in 2000 when she was chosen to represent the United Kingdom in that years Eurovision Song Contest with the song “Don’t Play That Song Again”. She came sixteenth overall out of twenty four countries competing. It was the UK’s lowest placing in the contest since 1989. The song later entered the UK singles chart at No.34.
She signed to Ravernous Records soon after and recorded five songs, including a cover of Meatloaf’s “Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad”, none of which where ever commercially released. In 2003 she joined other Eurovision alumni such as Sonia, Katrina of Katrina and The Waves and Katie Boyle on a Weakest Link celebrity special. French won the contest raising £13,000 for Cancer Research. She was actually a last minute replacement for Gina G, who had gone into labour!
Since then, Nicki French has recorded only occasionally with Energise Records and performs small venues and Eurovision nights. She has appeared on stage in such plays as ‘Annie’ (2010) and playing legend Ethel Merman in a stage production of her life and career in 2013. She is a seasoned pantomime regular and has been cast no less than four times as The Fairy Godmother in Cinderella from 2009-14. In 2015 she reunited with Mike Stock and recorded a brand new track “This Love”, which was released digitally.
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