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21 August 1968|
Dina Carroll (born Geraldine Carroll, 21 August 1968) is an English singer of African and Irish-Scots heritage. She had a string of hits during the 1990s, including the UK top ten hits, "It's Too Late" (1991), "Don't Be a Stranger" (1993), "The Perfect Year", (1993), and "Escaping" (1996). Her first two albums, So Close (1993), and Only Human (1996), both reached number two on the UK Albums Chart and went platinum. She won Best British Female Solo Artist at the 1994 Brit Awards.
Carroll was born in Newmarket, England, and started singing at age of five, primarily at home with her sister. Despite the lack of formal vocal coaching, in 1981, at the age of thirteen, she won a local talent competition, with her rendition of Barbra Streisand's "Woman in Love". After leaving school, she worked in various jobs, including a one-day stint as a chambermaid in a Cambridge hotel in 1985.
At the age of sixteen, she was signed to the dance music record label Streetwave, located in London. Carroll moved to West London and recorded two singles, "Set It Off" and "One Nation", in the mid 1980s, credited to a non-existent group, Masquerade. After six unproductive months, she left Streetwave.
In 1989, Carroll secured a recording contract with Jive/Zomba and released a number of singles in 1989 and 1990. Of particular note was her cover of Dionne Warwick's classic "Walk On By", co-produced by The Pasadenas who also provided vocal arrangement and backing vocals. Although "Walk On By" did not make it to the UK Top 40 (peaking at number 95), it was a minor hit in continental Europe. Other solo hits during that era included "People All Around the World" and "Me Sienta Sola (We Are One)", the latter being an underground club hit in the New York scene. Carroll also provided vocals to Brothers in Rhythm's single "Peace and Harmony" in 1991.
After a short time at Jive/Zomba, Carroll was spotted by Dennis Ingoldsby, one half of First Avenue Management, a small and newly founded management group. First Avenue were also managing another unknown band called Quartz. Carroll provided vocals for Quartz on their cover of Carole King's "It's Too Late", which topped the dance charts and reached No. 8 in the UK Singles Chart in early 1991. A follow-up single, "Naked Love (Just Say You Want Me)"was also released, reaching number 39.
After two singles with Quartz, First Avenue decided to relaunch Carroll as a solo artist. She was signed to A&M Records by managing director Howard Berman. Carroll's first solo single (produced and co-written by Nigel Lowis) "Ain't No Man" was released in June 1992, reaching number 16 in the chart.
To capitalise on the momentum of "Ain't No Man", Carroll and Lowis worked on future singles together, one of which being the top 20 hit "So Close", which was released in December 1992; coincidentally the title of her debut album. Carroll was approached by Robert Clivillés and David Cole of C&C Music Factory who invited her to New York to become the first British artist to work with them. Carroll interrupted the writing and recording of her album to record "Special Kind of Love", which also reached number 16 in the UK Singles Chart.
The album continued to generate a string of hits, such as "This Time" (No. 23) and "Express" (No. 12). One of the tracks on the album, "Don't Be a Stranger", a cover version of a song originally recorded by Chyna, was the sixth single from the album, but a new version was recorded for the single release, with the London Session Orchestra providing strings for a new backing track. This completely transformed the song, and when it was released, it became Carroll's biggest chart hit, reaching No. 3 and spending many weeks inside the Top 10.
Carroll announced her first British tour for November and December 1993 with the then unknown Eternal as supporting guests. To round off a highly successful 1993, Carroll recorded her version of "The Perfect Year" from Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Sunset Boulevard" and released it in December 1993. This was another top 5 hit, peaking at No. 5, and Carroll was to become the only British female to have two singles simultaneously in the Top 10 that decade, with "Don't Be a Stranger" still holding high when "The Perfect Year" entered the charts.
Carroll was named Best Female Artist at the BRIT Awards in February 1994. She then took a break from her recording and touring obligations, stating that she felt "burned out". Although no new records were released, the album So Close extended its unbroken residency in the top 10 for the main part in 1994, eventually selling over 1.5 million copies in the United Kingdom, making it the fourth biggest-selling album of the year in the United Kingdom, and until Dido's No Angel, the biggest selling debut album by a female artist in the history of the UK charts. The album was also short-listed for the Mercury Music Prize. Towards the end of the year, Carroll announced another national tour in December, selling out over 15 dates at huge stadia.
Rumours of new songs from Carroll started to surface in the summer of 1995, but instead of releasing them, she found herself in the midst of contractual problems. Howard Berman, who had originally signed her to A&M, had moved to Mercury Records but there were problems in convincing them to move Carroll with him. Eventually, Mercury agreed but it was not until May 1996 that the release of a new single was confirmed. "Escaping", a song written by Barry Blue, first recorded by New Zealander Margaret Urlich in 1989 and subsequently a minor hit for Asia Blue in 1992, was finally released in September, almost three years after Carroll's last record.
The song entered the chart at No. 3. The B-side track, "Mind Body & Soul" on the other hand, topped the club chart, re-establishing Dina's dominance in the dance genre.
A new album, Only Human followed in October. It debuted at No. 2 on the album charts, equalling the position of her debut So Close. The title track was released as a double A-sided (with "Run to You") Christmas single for 1996, but was Carroll's least successful single since "Naked Love", reaching No. 33. Subsequently, no more singles were released from the album, although the hugely popular "Living for the Weekend", co-produced by David Morales, was released on 12" and became a big club smash.
During the recording of Only Human, Carroll discovered that she had developed otosclerosis, a hereditary bone disease which affected her ears. She postponed treatment until after all her recording duties had been fulfilled. She had an operation to replace a whole eardrum, but went back to work almost immediately to promote the album. Although any dislodgement by noise could have cost her the sense of hearing, Carroll made a reasonable recovery, despite some inevitable permanent loss. Overall, Carroll considered the making of the second album a very dispiriting experience, and often described Only Human as a "lost baby", despite it selling 500,000 copies and achieving Platinum status.
Carroll was nominated for "Best British Female Artist" in the 1997 BRIT Awards. She then went into artistic hibernation, and although there were press reviews of tracks like "Living for the Weekend" (reviewed in Billboard Magazine as a promo US single), the decision was made to concentrate on the making of the 3rd album rather than release more singles from the 2nd as Mercury were happy with the sales figures off the back of just two singles.
She returned to the drawing board in 1998 for her third album. For this, she went to Los Angeles to work with producer Rhett Lawrence, most famous for his production of Mariah Carey's début album. The collaboration was originally intended only for three tracks, but they ended up recording a full album in Rhett's home studio. The lead single was "One, Two, Three", a radio-friendly mid-tempo love song. This was released in October 1998, with new remixes of "Livin' for the Weekend" to satisfy both her pop and dance music fans. It was her third single to reach No. 16 in the charts.
"Son of a Preacher Man" was originally planned as the follow-up single to "One, Two Three". However, due to the untimely death of Dusty Springfield in early 1999, this single was withheld. At the same time, the album was postponed, because Carroll was not totally happy with some of the mixes on the album. Instead, Carroll's record company decided to relaunch her as a dance diva. A new uptempo track, "Without Love" was chosen to be the next single, with a host of remixes to suit all sections of the club scene. The single continued her uninterrupted string of Dance Chart-toppers, and re-established her place in the UK music scene when released in July 1999, reaching No. 13 in the UK Singles Chart.
A follow-up single, "Say You Love Me", was scheduled for release in November 1999. Part of promotion saw Carroll performing the track live on Dale Winton's Saturday night Lottery Show. The remixed version of the album was planned to follow this single two weeks later. However, Mercury suspended the release of the single, and both the single and the album were shelved. However, Carroll appeared on the charity single "It's Only Rock 'n' Roll..." along with many other huge stars such as the Spice Girls. It reached No. 19 in the Christmas charts of 1999.
In 2000, First Avenue Management entered into a crisis phase when most of their artists were dropped by their labels, e.g. Eternal, Louise, Dana Dawson, Kele Le Roc, The Honeyz, Kéllé Bryan, Michelle Gayle, etc. All of their acts had declining record sales and Carroll was also caught up in this so left First Avenue at the end of 2000.
In 2001, Carroll released a new single and a greatest hits compilation . Carroll's cover version of Van Morrison's "Someone Like You", featured in the Bridget Jones's Diary soundtrack and reached number 38. To fulfil her contractual obligations to Mercury, Carroll released The Very Best of Dina Carroll in June 2001. It entered the UK Albums Chart at No. 15, despite her only having released two studio albums to date, although they had both sold enough copies to achieve multi-platinum certifications.
In 2002, Carroll left her contract with Universal Music Group.
In 2016, Carroll appeared as a guest vocalist on "We Bring the Party" by The Dig Band, produced by long time collaborator Nigel Lowis.
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|1985||"Set It Off" (as Masquerade)||86||--||--|
|"One Nation" (as Masquerade)||54||--||--|
|1989||"People All around the World"||--||--||--|
|"Me Sienta Sola (We Are One)"||--||--||--|
|"Walk On By"||95||--||--|
|1990||"Peace and Harmony" (with Brothers in Rhythm)||94||--||--|
|"Don't Stop the Music" (with Simon Harris and Monte Luv)||84||--||--|
|1991||"It's Too Late" (Quartz introducing Dina Carroll)||8||--||--|
|"Naked Love (Just Say You Want Me)" (Quartz and Dina Carroll)||39||--||--|
|1992||"Ain't No Man"||16||--||--|
|"Special Kind of Love"||16||--||--|
|"Don't Be a Stranger"||3||6||--|
|"The Perfect Year"||5||4||--|
|"Only Human"/"Run to You"||33||--||--|
|1998||"One, Two, Three"||16||--||--|
|"It's Only Rock 'n' Roll" (various artists charity single)||19||--||--|
|2001||"Someone Like You"||38||--||--|
|2016||"We Bring the Party" (with The Dig Band)||--||--||--|