Swiss vocalist Lys Assia, best known as the “First Lady of Eurovision” has died, aged 94.
Assia won the inaugural Eurovision Song Contest in Lugano, in her native Switzerland, in 1956. She performed the two Swiss entries in that first contest, the winner being the second one, titled Refrain.
During her long and successful career, she performed for Queen Elizabeth II, the Egyptian King Faruk and Eva Peron. She was also involved with many charitable events all over the world. Born Rosa Mina Schärer in 1924 in Rupperswil, in the North of Switzerland, the artist who we would get to know as Lys Assia started her career as a dancer, but soon turned to singing, achieving her biggest hit in 1950 with O Mein Papa.
She returned to the contest again in 1957, placing eighth of ten acts, and in 1958, when she placed second. There were other attempts to return but she did not win local Swiss finals.
She remained a loyal supporter of the contest, being a guest of honour in many occasions, like in Gothenburg in 1985 when Eurovision was celebrating its 30th edition.
In Stockholm, just days before the city hosted the 2016 contest, she took part in a special meet and greet event for fans and press, where she shared her memories in a variety of languages -she was fluent in at least six- and took pictures with every single person who asked.
Very sad news: Lys Assia, first winner of the Eurovision Song Contest, passed away. We will miss her. https://t.co/X270MtvCkH
— Jon Ola Sand (@jonolasand) March 24, 2018