Festival Star, Dova

Massiel, the hesitant diva

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Festival Stars

The song contests and festivals provided ample opportunity for unknown girl singers to preview their material. Many of them never reached superstardom, but festival-goers remember them with affection. Even today, some Spanish record stores reserve a special record bin for "festival winners."The girl singers were winning one of two tops prizes awarded at the Benidorm Festival in 1965 through 1967. First came Olympia with "Tu Loca Juventud." Then in 1966, just after turning 12 years-old, Alicia Granados won with "Nocturno." Betina took first prize in 1967 with "Entre Los Dos." In a different era, the mysterious Roxana came in first at the 1971 contest with "Mi Rincón." A boyish-looking brunette called Gema was the unexpected champion of the Festival De La Canción De Mallorca in1966, singing her minor hit "Cuando Llegue El Verano." Barcelona's premier Ye-Yé singer, Lita Torelló, won several prizes at that city's Festival De La Canción Del Mediterráneo during the sixties. Lita twice reached the finals to represent Spain at the Eurovision Contest, but she retired from show business at a very young age. The versatile Valencian singer Adriángela popped up in many festivals during the sixties, taking the prize at Mallorca in 1969 for best performance with "Buenos Días."


This frequent contestant of the song-festival circuit favored big-production numbers like "Mr. Monday" (1970) and "Vete De Mi" (1972), both released on the Polygram label. Dova's dynamic, soaring voice recalls American singer Vikki Carr. A native of Valencia on the Mediterranean coast, Dova (Francisca Dolz) attained widespread popularity outside of Spain, namely in the former Communist-bloc countries where her TV special Fin De Semana Con Dova was widely broadcast. Dova toured extensively across the continent- en route she appeared in a Bulgarian TV special and recorded some songs in Romania. "I believe that a singer shouldn't restrict herself to one country; it's important to be valued elsewhere," Dova once explained.

The "Cantautoras"

As in Britain and America, the mid-sixties saw an increase in Spanish singers penning their own material, rather than relying on outside songwriters. A "cantautora" is translated as female singer-songwriter.


Massiel was born María de los Ángeles Santamaría on August 2, 1947 in Madrid. Her tailor-turned-talent agent father exposed his young daughter to the world of show business, regularly arranging for Massiel to perform at celebrity-filled cocktail parties. Although Massiel had initially planned to pursue a career in dance, she was to become a musical phenomenon in Spain- an icon always remembered for bringing Spain its first victory at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1968. Massiel introduced a more mature, serious side to Spanish pop that earned her the title of "The First Rebel Singer of Madrid." The self-penned "Dí Que No" was her first hit in a string of many for the Novola label, who represented her until 1971. She won Eurovision in 1968 with "La La La,"a song written by Manuel de la Calva and Ramón Arcusa that has become one of the most popular Spanish songs of all time. In the summer of 1968 she suffered a throat ailment, but came out of it with an added strength in her lower register. Massiel's hits include "Rosas En El Mar" and "¡Aleluya! No. 1," both released in 1967 and written by prolific songwriter Luís Eduardo Aute. At the height of her success, singer Tom Jones dubbed Massiel " the number one singer of the number two language."She continued to record music well into the early nineties and dabbled in stage acting and film. In the late sixties, the Spanish press used the now overused term "diva" to describe Massiel's personal style and musical talent. To which Massiel responded- "I believe a person only starts to feel like a diva when people say that she is one."

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