3 March – The years pass away as quick as lightning

We’re breaking with tradition today and celebrating the birthday of someone no longer with us. That’s because this person has a special place in Eurovision folklore, and you might not know much about her. It’s Lys Assia!

Today’s birthday girl was born Rosa Mina Schärer in the northern Swiss town of Rupperswil. In 1956 she made the short journey across her country to Lugano to sing two songs – yes, two songs – in a new competition designed to unite Europe through song. She sang in German and French, demonstrating her range as a performer. And she won! We don’t know whether it was close, and maybe it’s better that we don’t know. But undaunted, she came back for the next two years, singing in Italian and again in French. She tried on more than one occasion to represent Switzerland again, but she made her name more as a personality, going to contests to give words of wisdom and approval, and sometimes to present prizes. Her death in 2018 was a great loss to the Eurovision story.

Lys would have been 100 today.

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