Saturday, March 21, 2009

Dana Valery - This Is My Prayer

Another international singer already lined up for a Eurocovers feature since the beginning of this blog is Dana Valery. But information on her career and recordings is very patchy I had to put the article aside several times. I thought it especially interesting because of her equally talented brother (Sergio Franchi 1926-1990) who also has a few Eurocovers to his name, so something of a Brothers & Sisters feature would have been fitting.
Dana Valery's career is all over the place and I don't know many artists who have recorded for so many record labels. Her work isn't documented anywhere and as far as I know there has never been a CD re-issue of any of her albums, let alone a compilation. I don't intend to cover all aspects of her career but the things that stood out are here. If you have any additions or suggestions please leave a comment.

Dana Valery Catalano is born in Italy but at eight she moves to South Africa with her family.
It's here that she has her first solo hits, including her first Eurovision coverversions.
But before the breakthrough she spends a short while (and one LP: Dan, Diana and the Diamonds, CBS 1962) with Rhodesian band the Diamonds.

It's hard to put her early South African releases in chronological order but it's the 1964 single This Is My Prayer that is a huge hit and becomes a top 10 best selling single of the year in South Africa. This Is My Prayer (CBS SSC 479 South Africa) is a coverversion of Gigliola Cinquetti's Eurovision winner Non Ho L'Eta (Italy 1964).
The b-side to the single is Would I Love You Again, and that's another Eurocover: t'En Va Pas, the Swiss 1963 entry by Esther Ofarim (2nd place).
The single is also released in the UK but it fails to chart. (Decca F11881)
Both songs can also be found on the LP Dana (CBS ALD 6747, South Africa)
After the success with This Is My Prayer Dana Valery releases an LP Dana Valery All'Italiana (CBS ALD 6694), but I don't know if there are any Eurovision songs on that, I haven't found a tracklist.
There are some more singles and albums released in South Africa up to 1965 but after that she moves to the U.S. to record what I think is her best work.

She releases several singles on the Columbia label like You, Having You Around and especially the utterly fantastic You Don't know Where Your Interest Lies from 1967. The latter is a Simon & Garfunkel song written by Paul Simon who also provides the talking bits on the track. (originally it's the b-side to Having You Around)
The song fails to chart but has become a Northern Soul classic over the years, and rightfully so. It has appeared on many compilations and the single was re-issued on several labels.
The original issue on Columbia is a hard to find collectable and will set you back a a three figure sum in $. (Can any modern Knobtwiddler like Sonny J. please pick this track up?!?).

In the late 60's and early 70's she is a guest on all major U.S. TV shows (Ed Sullivan, Merv Griffin, Johnny Carson, David Frost, Liberace). Put Your Hand In The Hand (1971) is a popular song for her and it gets a single release in many countries.

In 1975 she releases the third Eurovision coverversion on the LP Dana Valery produced by Mountain guitarist Leslie West. The album includes Dana's (quite fab) take on Cliff Richards Power To All Our Friends, the U.K. entry of 1973.

Disco doesn't pass Dana by either and she releases several records combining light disco with ballads and covers of pop hits. Her disco version of Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow (1976 # 95 on the US billboard) is dire, but the era gives Dana Valery her 'biggest' US top 100 hit the soulful ballad Don't Want to be Lonely (#87 in 1980)

In 1978 she releases a single in German, Du Bist Das Licht in Meiner Welt, but it doesn't spark a career in the German speaking countries

After a long and sudden run of personal tragedies in the early 1991 she stops working for a year but then is asked to host an American games show. It's at this show Dana Valery decides it's time for a career change.
She ventures into healing through Reiki and hypnotherapy. You can read how that came about and more on her current website.

Sergio Franchi
In her U.S. career Dana Valery performed with her brother on several occasions (The Ed Sullivan show amongst them)
Dana's brother is Sergio Franchi, an operatic singer who later crosses over to lighter music like say, Eurocovers. In his career he records the Italian entries of 1958, 1959, 1961 and 1966. Sergio Franchi's death in 1990 is one of the personal tragedies that had an big impact Dana Valery's life. I hope to do a feature on Sergio Franchi in a future Eurocovers post.

Over the years I have been collecting all details on South African Eurocovers and put it into a document. I've updated the file with the latest new stuff, but also with some recently unearthed stuff. If you want to read it, you can download it here. (Updated 2010)
Two requests:
1 - If you have any additions or corrections, please let me know
2- Can anyone help me find the Marnie 1973 single Die Oue Musikant (on Polydor S.A.). It's so high on my wantslist it almost falls of. I found it on a webshop last year but they had just sold it.

MySpace YourSpace OuttaSpace: Moto Boy
Moto Boy performed the 2008 Swedish entry Hero in the interval of the Swedish melodifestivalen final this year. Live he got some help from the original singer Charlotte Perrelli, but at his MySpace you can hear his atmospheric interpretation of Hero in a studio version.


Lyn said...

My favorite by Dana is "I WISH YOU LOVE", perhaps recorded back in South Africa. I saw her in 'Wait a Minim" in New York, cherish recordings of both S.A. and NY casts.

And the first live opera of my life was Butterfly with Sergio Franci Galli as Lt. Pinkerton. I was a student in Johannesburg then.
Those voices are part of my life.
Thank you Dana for a great deal of joy.

Toonces2U said...

You neglected to mention Dana Valery's excellent 1972 album entitled Not The Flower But The Root released on the Brunswick label. That album is a classic in my book. On it Dana covers R&B hits like Oh Girl (Oh Boy), Have You Seen Her (Him), Your Love Keeps Lifting Me HIGHER & HIGHER as well as songs written by Curtis Mayfield, Eugene Record and Barbara Acklin. It is really a must have. Hopefully someday a reissue label will see fit to release the Not The Flower But The Root album on CD with bonus tracks.

mimi said...

Just recently discovered your site. Re Sergio Franchi's Eurocovers: In his recording career from 1960 to 1968 he recorded 16 Eurocovers. See the new Discography I have just completed on Wilipedia. These are identified under "Italian and Neapolitan Songs." There are the 4 1960 songs; "Volare" (1958); "Piove" from 1959; "Lei" and "Al di la" from 1961; "Quando Quando Quando (1962); "E se domani" (1964); and five from 1968.."Quando m'innamora," "Canzone per te," "La Vita," "Non persare a me," "Stanotte sentirai una cazone," and "Dio, come ti amo" from 1964. Catherine

mimi said...

Sorry. I got that wrong. All of my comments about Sergio Franchi relate to Sanremo Festival entries that he recorded. Of course, they wew not all Eurocovers. Catherine