Born in 1968 in Great Britain. Addresses: Management--Tony Denton Promotions, 1st Avenue Management, The Courtyard, 42 Colwith Road, Hammersmith, London, W6 9EY, United Kingdom.

As one of Great Britain's most popular recording artists at the close of the 1990s, Dina Carroll scored a phenomenal total of seven hit records in succession between 1992 and 1993, and nearly all displayed her lively disco dance style. In 1994, she received honors at both the International Dance Music Awards (IDA) and the prestigious BRIT Awards as best female artist of the year. By 2000, Carroll had orchestrated a series of career makeovers and was intent on establishing her legitimacy beyond the adult contemporary and dance boogie arenas, having successfully crossed over and scored hits on the popular charts while skirting the fringe of rhythm and blues. Thus, with a new millennium looming, Carroll successfully completed her metamorphosis and emerged as a full-blown chanteuse, a diva of diverse disciplines and a talent of major proportion.

The dynamic British dance diva ascended to stardom through a maze of singing arrangements and contracts with recording studios on both sides of the Atlantic, simultaneously climbing her way up the rungs of the proverbial ranks of life. Her father was a member of the United States Navy, who was stationed in England at the time of her birth in 1968. Her Scottish-Irish mother haled originally from Glasgow. It was in the midst of a futile rush to the hospital in the back seat of a taxicab that Carroll came into the world. Her life as a member of a military family involved incessant relocation; her parents moved frequently during her infancy and landed in the United States when she was two years old. That same year, Carroll's parents divorced, leaving her with abysmal recollections of childhood from that time forward. She returned to Cambridge, England, in the custody of her mother, to an atmosphere where racial tolerance was little more than an ideal. Carroll, whose father was African American, suffered painful taunting at the hands of her playmates and from the children at school solely because of her racially mixed background. In order to shield herself from ridicule, Carroll attempted to camouflage certain physical characteristics in an attempt to belie her heritage. She habitually straightened her thick, curly hair and created whatever illusion possible in order to present herself as 100 percent Caucasian like her mother.

In the midst of her youthful disillusionment, Carroll always enjoyed singing. She found her inspiration in rhythm and blues and was heavily influenced by groups such as the Isley Brothers and the Temptations, and by soul queen Aretha Franklin. Carroll never received formal voice training, although her talent was evident even as a young girl. By the age of 13 she was entering and winning local talent shows with her renditions of popular Barbra Streisand songs, among other tunes. Carroll was in her late teens and finished with high school when she returned to the United States for a time, intent on setting up the foundation for a singing career. She was fortuitous in finding work as a session singer, although out of necessity she supplemented her career with odd jobs and worked wherever she was able in order to eke out her survival. She never snubbed her nose at a job during the early days of her career, even working as a teenage chambermaid in 1985.

A dance craze meanwhile was on the upsurge in popular music circles during the late 1980s. Carroll's first career opportunity occurred when she auditioned for Morgan Khan's Streetwave label, with her mother in tow as a so-called manager. Streetwave, which specialized in dance music, used Carroll as a featured singer under the auspices of a group named Masquerade. She recorded two singles as Masquerade: "Sell It Off" and "One Nation." Carroll sang also as a member of the Pasadenas.

Carroll's finances, as it happened, dwindled even as she made small inroads as a singer. When Jive/Jamba Records offered her a British contract in the late 1980s, she returned to London, where she set up residence in a low-rent flat. Under Jive/Jamba's management Carroll recorded a series of popular singles, including "People All Around the World," and "Me Sienta Sola," and a reprise of the Dionne Warwick classic, "Walk On By." Carroll subsequently collaborated with an American group, Brothers in Rhythm, on a track called "Peace and Harmony." The success of that record helped to usher her name into the spotlight of the international recording arena.

Soon afterward, Carroll abandoned Jive/Zomba and signed instead with 1st Avenue Management of London. Before long that recording company set her up with a new group, called Quartz, and early in 1990 the ensemble recorded an old Carole King favorite, "It's Too Late." The record went on to achieve popularity as a crossover hit, which spanned from the British dance charts into a position among the top ten songs on the pop charts. Carroll and Quartz followed next with "Naked Love." It was the success of that that song that led to 1st Avenue's decision to promote Carroll as a solo headliner. With the success of the recording "Naked Love," writer Nigel Lowis, who was intrinsically involved in the production of the hit single by Quartz, moved into Carroll's professional sphere and assumed a role as a professional coach and mentor in many ways. At Carroll's request in 1992, Lowis assisted with the production of her subsequent solo debut, "Ain't No Man," a major hit single. The popular dance club song catapulted Carroll to the forefront of disco music and was followed, by the end of 1993, with a string of six additional top 30 hits in succession, including two songs that settled among the top five on the music charts. During the production of her early solo recordings, Carroll's artistic involvement in the production of her own recordings escalated and matured, largely under the guidance of Lowis. Additionally, the success of "Ain't No Man" brought Carroll to the attention of an American record label, C&C Music Factory. At the personal request of C&C founders Robert Clivilles and David Cole, Carroll signed as the first British artist with the label. She recorded "Special Kind of Love" for C&C, followed by "So Close" at the end of 1992. The latter song, Carroll's first ballad, moved into a top 20 position on the music charts and set the stage to become the title track for Carroll's solo debut album, which was released in 1993.

Thus, with Carroll as co-writer, co-producer, and singer, she and Lowis entered a collaboration to produce a full-length debut album for her as a solo star. The record, So Close, released on A&M Records in England, moved into the number two position on the British album charts within two weeks of its release. It was the third best-selling album of 1993 and earned two major awards for Carroll. In 1994 she was named Best Female Artist at the BRIT Awards. She took the same honor at the IDAs that year also. Six of the album's tracks--including, "This Time," "Express," and "Don't Be a Stranger," which were released as singles--reached a position among the top 30 songs on the music charts. So Close sold 1.5 million copies in England by 1994, and Carroll set off on tour as a headliner accompanied by then-unknown Eternal. The tour sold out everywhere, a notable rarity for a dance music star. Carroll's ensuing single release of the Rod Stewart hit, "I Don't Want to Talk About It," was followed by "The Perfect Year," by Andrew Lloyd Webber. "The Perfect Year" was incorporated into Carroll's second album at Webber's personal request.

Ironically, Carroll initially eschewed her early love of rhythm and blues amid the thrill of her rising career. She began to stereotype the more classic music genre and disregarded soulful songs with old-fashioned flavor. She focused instead on nurturing a notably youthful image. Yet with or without image control, Carroll's fans remained loyal. She departed on tour for a second time with a 15-stop itinerary that included Wembley Arena. The tour sold out in its entirety, an estimated total of 500,000 tickets.

A contract dispute erupted in 1995, and Carroll quit A&M Records to follow her manager, Howard Berman, who accepted a position with Mercury Records. Mercury released her double-sided single, "Escaping"/"Mind, Body, & Soul," which enjoyed similar success as her earlier recordings. By 1996, a second solo album, Only Human, was released, along with a double-sided single, "Only Human"/"Run to You." The album entered the charts at number two and sold more than 300,000 copies despite the infusion of Carroll's rhythm and blues sounds into the mix.

Carroll left the spotlight for a time in 1997 after she was diagnosed with otosclerosis soon after the release of Only Human. She underwent eardrum replacement surgery to correct the hereditary condition and spent five months making a full recovery. When she returned to her career in 1998, she was--by her own admission--more at peace with herself and more receptive to her fans. She set to work on a third solo album. The release of the album, originally scheduled for October of 1999, was beset by circumstances that resulted in postponement of the release on more than one occasion, although the single, "Without Love," was released in the United Kingdom on Manifesto Records in July of 1999.

by Gloria Cooksey

Dina Carroll's Career

Sang in studio sessions, late 1980s; released two songs for Streetwave Records under the name of Masquerade; signed with Jamba/Jive Records, solo debut released on A&M Records, 1993; signed with Mercury Records, 1995.

Dina Carroll's Awards

BRIT Award, Best Female Artist, 1994; International Dance Music Awards (IDA), Best Female Artist, 1994.

Famous Works

Further Reading

Sources

PeriodicalsOnline

Visitor Comments Add a comment…

over 8 years ago

I SEE Dina at Wembley london, she was phenominal ,where is she now?

over 8 years ago

I had the pleasure of running a Pub that Dina lived near it in 1991, I have never forgot how genuine and down to earth she was including her warmth she gave, I loved her music before I meet Dina and I am proud to have meet her