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Nena

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Biography

Hagen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany (1979 – present)

Nena is the stage name of German singer and actress Gabriele Susanne Kerner (born 24 March 1960 in Hagen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany). Nena was also the name of the band with whom she released the 1984 English recording of her most well-known song “99 Red Balloons” (orginally released in Germany in 1983 as “99 Luftballons”)

Nena acquired her nickname, which means “baby girl” in Spanish, at the age of 3 during a vacation to Spain. Her first band was called The Stripes (1979). They had a very minor hit with the song “Ecstasy”, but never managed to achieve broad success.

The band Nena was formed with Nena (singer), Rolf Brendel (drums), Carlo Karges (guitar), Uwe Fahrenkrog-Petersen (keyboard) and Jürgen Dehmel (bass) in Berlin in 1981. Their first hit single, “Nur geträumt” (“Only In Dreams”), came in 1982 after appearing on the German television program Musikladen.

The following year they released their self-titled first album, which contained the singles “99 Luftballons” and “Leuchtturm” (“Lighthouse”). “99 Luftballons” was a #1 hit in many countries (including the U.S.) and an English version of the song, “99 Red Balloons”, was recorded, and retains some measure of cultural influence, being referred to in current music - the Guster track Amsterdam. The song also featured in an episode of Scrubs, Gilmore Girls the film, Grosse Point Blank, and most recently the movie Watchmen. Nena then released ? (Fragezeichen) in 1984, Feuer und Flamme (“Fire And Flame”, means “to be all for it”) in 1985, Eisbrecher (“Icebreaker”) in 1986. During her success in the UK, Nena was also famous for having hairy armpits, which in the UK was unusual for a woman to have.

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