Nena Nena
German singer
Nena Nena
Gabriele Susanne Kerner, better known by her stage name Nena, is a German singer and actress. She rose to international fame in 1983 with the New German Wave song "99 Luftballons". In 1984, she re-recorded this song in English as "99 Red Balloons". Nena was also the name of the band with whom she released the song. With the re-recording and subsequent release of some of her old songs, her career re-emerged in 2002. In 2007, she co-founded the school "Neue Schule Hamburg".
Biography
Nena's personal information overview.
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    FIFTIES
  • 2016
    Age 55
    In April and May 2016 she was one of the participants in the third season of Sing meinen Song, a show in which well-known artists perform each other's songs and judge their favourites.
    More Details Hide Details In 2007, jointly with her partner Philipp Palm, Thomas Simmerl, and Silke Steinfadt, she founded the Neue Schule Hamburg, a school following the Sudbury model. Nena wrote an autobiographical book, Willst du mit mir gehn ("Do You Want to Go with Me?"), jointly with Claudia Thesenfitz, a journalist. Nena's contributions are her disparate accounts of various episodes in her life. Most of Thesenfitz's contributions are excerpts from interviews of many of Nena's friends, co-workers, and relatives. Since becoming a mother, Nena has released a number of albums consisting of songs for children. In the 1990s she hosted several TV shows, including Metro and Countdown Grand Prix, the German preselection for the Eurovision Song Contest, in 1998.
    Then, in April 2016, 14 months after Oldschools release, the third single from the album, "Genau jetzt", returned Nena to the German Top 30 singles chart for the first time in 6 years.
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  • 2015
    Age 54
    Nena also supports local causes and in 2015 ran (in socks) 2.5 kilometres (approximately 1.5 miles) in aid of a Stuttgart children’s hospice.
    More Details Hide Details Nena is a vegetarian and won the PETA (Germany) award for "Sexiest Vegetarian of the Year 2010". She believes in Jesus and God and says that thanking him for every new day is the cornerstone of her spirituality. From time to time suspicions of drug use have surfaced, particularly in light of Nena’s high energy levels on stage. However, in his 2014 biography of the Nena band, Rolf Brendel, its drummer and Nena’s boyfriend at the time said that although other band members experimented with drugs, Nena never did and frowned upon it. Brendel added, "Nena is naturally stoned, she doesn’t need to take drugs."
    Later in 2015 Nena announced her intention to perform live in the USA for the first time by way of a similar "club tour", which was initially planned for the Spring of 2016 and subsequently postponed to September.
    More Details Hide Details Besides her singing career, she has also acted in the 1983 musical comedy film Gib Gas – Ich will Spaß (released in the US as Hangin' Out) opposite fellow musician Markus Mörl, and voiced the character Saphira for the German dub of the movie Eragon and the role of the Princess for the German version of Arthur and the Invisibles alongside Tokio Hotel's Bill Kaulitz. Kaulitz has also stated on many occasions that Nena is his favourite singer. Nena was one of the coaches on The Voice of Germany for 3 seasons before announcing her withdrawal from the show in March 2014.
    A recording of one of these concerts – at the SO36 club in Berlin on 4 March 2015 – was released as Nena’s 6th live album Live at SO36 on 4 March 2016, exactly one year later.
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    In March 2015 Nena promoted the release of the Oldschool album with a "club tour" of 16 smaller venues (for 200 to 700 people) including her former primary school.
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    Nena's next album, Oldschool, which was produced by the German rapper and hip hop artist Samy Deluxe, was released on 27 February 2015.
    More Details Hide Details Distribution rights for the album were agreed with Sony Music, twenty-two years after the company dropped Nena as a recording artist, following the indifferent performance of her second solo album Bongo Girl. The album maintained Nena's 21st century chart success pattern (top 5 in Germany, top 10 in Austria, top 20 in Switzerland) but the first two singles released from the album failed to chart. However, for the first time in Nena's career, another track from the album ("Magie"), which was not released as a single, crept into the lower echelons of the German singles chart solely by virtue of downloads.
  • 2012
    Age 51
    In late 2012 Nena released her 11th solo studio album, Du bist gut ("You're Good"), which peaked at No.2 in the German charts, although the tracks released as singles from the album were not as successful as those from her previous albums since her 2002 "comeback".
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  • 2011
    Age 50
    In 2011, she contributed vocals to the track "Let Go Tonight" by Kevin Costner and Modern West.
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  • FORTIES
  • 2009
    Age 48
    On Christmas Day 2009, Nena became a grandmother when Larissa gave birth to a girl, Carla Maria.
    More Details Hide Details Only two days later, Nena's son Sakias became a father to a boy named Noah. A third grandchild (Victor, son of Larissa) was born in September 2013. Since 2010, her twins (Sakias and Larissa) have appeared as backing singers on stage and on her albums and her youngest son, Simeon, joined her on stage playing keyboards during her first concerts in 2015. The Stripes Nena (band) Nena (solo) Concert films Leading roles Supporting roles Guest appearances Voice roles
    Nena released a new single on 4 September 2009, called "Wir sind wahr" ("We Are True"), and a new album on the 23rd: Made in Germany.
    More Details Hide Details The autobiographical ballad from the album "In meinem Leben" ("In My Life") became her 14th Top 10 hit in Germany, taking her to 12th position in the all-time list of top-ten hits in Germany, the third highest placed German act and top German female. She has developed an interest in the teachings of Indian mystic Osho (Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh) in recent years, and practises his meditation methods, an impression of which is featured in the "Wir sind wahr" video. She also collaborated with the popular techno-rap artists Die Atzen to produce a new single, "Strobo Pop".
    In 2009 she recorded and released a new version of her hit song "99 Luftballons", which more closely follows the 1980s original, in contrast to her 2002 version.
    More Details Hide Details This song was first performed in Germany on September 6, 2009. Some parts of the new version are in French. Since 2009, Nena's releases have been published by her own record label, The Laugh & Peas Company, which also promotes the work of her daughter's group (Adameva) and that of one of her protegé's from The Voice of Germany, Sharron Levy.
  • 2007
    Age 46
    She also released the single, "Ich kann nix dafür" ("It's Not My Fault") in April 2007 for the film, Vollidiot (Complete Idiot) and her cover of "She's a Rainbow" by the Rolling Stones in the US and the UK.
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    In October 2007, Nena released a new album entitled Cover Me, made up entirely of cover songs.
    More Details Hide Details David Bowie, Rolling Stones and Rammstein are three of the bands covered.
  • 2005
    Age 44
    Having regalvanised her career by virtue of her 1980s hits, Nena reestablished herself as a force with entirely new material with the 2005 album Willst du mit mir gehn ("Do You Wanna Go with Me?") which quickly achieved platinum status and climbed to No.2 in the German charts.
    More Details Hide Details The first single from the album, "Liebe ist" ("Love Is"), reached number 1 on the German charts in early 2005, and was the theme song for a German telenovela, Verliebt in Berlin. It reached the top position 22 years after "99 Luftballons", the longest span between first and last number 1 in German chart history. (See Liste der Nummer-eins-Hits in Deutschland).
  • 2002
    Age 41
    In 2002, Nena celebrated her 20th anniversary on stage with the album Nena feat.
    More Details Hide Details Nena, a disc consisting of newly arranged recordings of her hits from the 1980s. This album marked a "comeback" for Nena, and spawned a number of successful chart entries. The remake of "Anyplace, Anywhere, Anytime" as an English-German duet with Kim Wilde was a hit in various European countries, reaching the Number 1 spot in the Netherlands and Austria, and Number 3 in Germany, in 2003.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1993
    Age 32
    In 1993, following the indifferent performance of her second solo album Bongo Girl, Sony decided not to renew Nena's recording contract and the label which distributed her third, RMG Music Entertainment, disappeared shortly afterwards.
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  • TWENTIES
  • 1989
    Age 28
    Nena's first solo album Wunder gescheh'n ("Miracles Happen") was released in late 1989.
    More Details Hide Details The title track, composed by Nena herself, relates to the fact that Nena was at the time pregnant with twins but its release a matter of days before the fall of the Berlin Wall and the fact that she performed the song at the end of the "Konzert für Berlin" three days later has ever since associated it with that historic event. It was to prove to be her last major hit of the 20th century as throughout the 1990s her albums and singles – although often critically acclaimed – were less commercially successful.
  • 1987
    Age 26
    Nena then started dating Swiss actor Benedict Freitag shortly after the band separated in 1987.
    More Details Hide Details Benedict is the son of the German actress Maria Becker and Austrian-Swiss actor Robert Freitag. The couple had three children together, the first being Christopher Daniel, who was born disabled allegedly due to medical mistakes made during the birth that caused Nena to go into cardiac arrest. He died at the age of 11 months. In 1990 they had twins, Larissa Marie and Sakias Manuel. After splitting with Freitag, Nena started a relationship with drummer and music producer Philipp Palm from Stuttgart, with whom she had two children, Samuel Vincent (1995), and Simeon Joel (1997). The couple and the four children currently live in Hamburg.
    Nena and the band's drummer Rolf Brendel split up in 1987, Nena's feelings movingly described in the song "Jetzt bist du weg" ("Now You Are Gone") from the band's final album, Eisbrecher.
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    The band split in 1987, and Nena went solo thereafter.
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  • 1984
    Age 23
    Nena's next international single "Just a Dream" (an English language re-issue of "Nur geträumt") reached number 70 in the UK charts in 1984; it had "Indianer" on the B-side.
    More Details Hide Details A dance version of "Just a Dream" was released in the 90s to a new audience and became a club anthem.
    In May 1984 whilst on a tour in the UK, Nena made the headlines of the British red-top press for having unshaven armpits.
    More Details Hide Details At the time this was not uncommon in continental Europe but was considered unusual in English-speaking countries to the extent that some people consider it explains the commercial failure there of the follow-ups to 99 Luftballons. Nena, baffled by the attention generated, asked the girlfriend of her manager to shave her and has remained clean shaven ever since. Referring to the "huge indignation" the issue raised, Nena, in her memoires published in 2005, wrote, "Can a girl from Hagen, who dreams of the big wide world and is in love with Mick Jagger, have no idea that girls can’t under any circumstances have hair under the arm? Yes she can. I simply had no idea!" Although "99 Luftballons" was Nena's only hit in the English-speaking world, the band continued to enjoy success in several European countries in the following years.
  • 1983
    Age 22
    In 1983, the band released its first album Nena, which contained the singles "Leuchtturm" ("Lighthouse") and "99 Luftballons" (the English version is called "99 Red Balloons"). "99 Luftballons" became a number-one hit in West Germany and the Netherlands in 1983 and went on to major international chart success the following year, an English version hitting number one in the UK and the original German version hitting number two in the United States, behind Van Halen's "Jump".
    More Details Hide Details In 1984, Casey Kasem's radio show "American Top 40" introduced a "mixed" version of the song, "splicing" the German and American versions together. It was also a huge hit in many other countries, and to this day it is one of the best-known German rock songs in many parts of the world.
  • 1982
    Age 21
    In 1982 "Nena" released their first single, "Nur geträumt" (German for "Only Dreamed"), which became an instant hit in Germany after the band appeared on the German television show Musikladen on 21 August 1982.
    More Details Hide Details The single reportedly sold 40,000 copies the day after the song appeared on the show and reached number two in the German charts.
    The group had a minor hit with the song "Ecstasy", but never achieved mainstream success and disbanded in May 1982 when Nena and her then-boyfriend Rolf Brendel moved to West Berlin.
    More Details Hide Details There they met future band members guitarist Carlo Karges, keyboard player Uwe Fahrenkrog-Petersen, and bass player Jürgen Dehmel. Together, they formed the band Nena.
  • TEENAGE
  • 1979
    Age 18
    Nena's musical career began in the summer of 1979 when guitarist Rainer Kitzmann offered her a position as the lead singer in his band The Stripes.
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  • 1977
    Age 16
    In 1977 she left high school before graduation, and in the three following years she was trained as a goldsmith.
    More Details Hide Details Prozent Nena, 2009. RTL
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1960
    Born
    Gabriele Susanne Kerner was born on 24 March 1960 in Hagen, North Rhine-Westphalia, West Germany while her family lived in the nearby town of Breckerfeld.
    More Details Hide Details She spent the earliest part of her childhood in Breckerfeld and later lived in Hagen. She acquired her nickname, based on the Spanish word "niña", or "little girl", at the age of three, while on a vacation to Spain with her parents.
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