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Gabriele Susanne Kerner, 24 March 1960

Raisen in Hagen, West GermanyGabrielle acquired her nickname, based on the Spanish word "nena" (colloquial for "niña"), or "little girl", at the age of three, while on a vacation to Spain with her parents. Her 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. The group had a minor hit with the song "Ecstasy", but never achieved mainstream success, and soon disbanded.

In 1981 Nena and her then-boyfriend Rolf Brendel moved to West Berlin, where they met guitarist Carlo Karges (1951). Karges was already active as a professional musician since 1971 as founding member of progrock band Novalis who had a small hit with his ‘Wer Schmetterlinge lachen hört schrieb’.  When he met Brendel and Nena he just left the popular NDWband Extrabreit. The band was completed with Uwe Fahrenkrog-Petersen on keyboard and bass player Jürgen Dehmel. In 1982 they released their first single, ‘Nur geträumt’, which became an instant hit in Germany after the band appeared on the German television show Musikladen. The band was picked up by Spliff and under their guidane recorded the 1983 selftitled album Nena , which contained the singles ‘Leuchtturm’ and ‘99 Luftballons’ (the English version is called ‘99 Red Balloons’). That single became a number-one hit in West Germany 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. The international succes wasn’t continued however. In Germany and the surrounding Nena stayed a household name in the charts. But by mid-1987 the band seperated leaving Nena to carry the name herself with a solo career. She also strated a acting career starring in the film ‘The Invisible Man’ (Director: Ulf Miehe) were she met her partner actor Benedict Freitag. The couple had three children together, the first being Christopher Daniel, who was born disabled and died at the age of 11 months. In 1990 they had twins, Larissa Marie and Sakias Manuel.

Being a young mother Nena combined irreguarly released albums, acting and a string of children’s music albums released under the name ‘Nena Kids’. In 1992 the couple split up. She started a new relationship with drummer and music producer Philipp Palm from Stuttgart, with whom she had two children, Samuel Vincent (1995), and Simeon Joel (1997). With her music career dragging on she teamed up with Uwe Fahrenkrog-Petersen in 2002 to commemorate the 20th anniversary with new versions of the old hits. It was also in memory of Karges who died of liver failure that year. The album ‘Nena feat. Nena’ reached high sales and delivered an unexpected comeback. That same year, she also works with the German DJ WestBam, appeared at the Mayday Techno festival with Toktok and had European succes with a duet with Kim Wilde (Anyplace, Anywhere, Anytime). She returned the favor on Kim's 2006 album ‘Never Say Never’ with the Supremes cover ‘You keep me hanging on’. In October 2007, Nena released a cover album with songs by David Bowie, Rolling Stones and Rammstein amongst others. The 2009 album title ‘Made in Germany’ is a small reference to her first grandchildren Carla Maria and Noah born around Christmas that year. In 2011 she became one of the jury members in the TV talent show ‘Voice of Germany’and started the "Live & Acoustic" tour. Unexpectedly the tour was temporarily postponed. This fuelled the rumours of illnes but Nena stated that it was just a short fatique. To proof she was still very much active she released a new album called ‘Du bits gut’. This is followed three years later with the statement 'Oldschool' in which Nena takes a pun at her status of German pop-godmother.

On the web:

Nena's website: http://www.nena.de/

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What do we think:

DB: For the past years Nena has taken the spot as Germany’s (grand)mother of Deutschpop. And not entirely unjustified because her singles from the eighties are etched in the memory of many a teenager from that era. After some ailing years in the Nineties she miraciously made a powerfull and lasting return to the scene in the new millenium. First with revamping her old songs but later also with new and hip material. Also commercially Nena was not too childish to lend her music for an advertising campaign of a car or clothing chain. Only adding to her presence in German media. And with her role as jury/coach in the ‘Voice’ it is likely she will hold her status as matriarch for a while.


- The Stripes (pre-Nena album) - 1980

♪♪♪♪ - Nena - 1983

♪♪♪ - ? (Fragezeichen) - 1984

- Feuer und Flamme - 1985

- Eisbrecher - 1986

- Wunder gescheh'n - 1989

♪♪ - Bongo Girl - 1992

- Und Alles Dreht Sich - 1994

- Jamma Nich - 1997

- Wenn Alles Richtig Ist, Dann Stimmt Was Nicht - 1998

- Chokmah - 2001

- Willst du mit mir gehen? - 2005

- Cover Me - 2007

- Made in Germany - 2009

♪♪♪ - Du Bist Gut - 2012

♪♪♪♪ - Oldschool - 2015

Nena Kids: 1990: Komm lieber Mai... (1990); Unser Apfelhaus (1995); Bambus Bären Bande (soundtrack) (1996); Nenas Weihnachtsreise (1997); Tausend Sterne (2002); Madou und das Licht der Fantasie (2002);


♪♪♪♪♪ = outstanding album, an absolute must-have
♪♪♪♪ = great album, highly recomended
♪♪♪ = nice album
♪♪ = be careful, requires listening before buying
♪ = best to be avoided


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