dina carroll was born in 1968, in the back of a taxi cab, to an english mother and an african-american father. the daughter of a member of the united states navy, carroll moved frequently with her family, throughout her childhood. eventually, her parents separated and she and her mother returned to england, settling in cambridge. unaware that their young classmate would one day grow up to assume the thrown as the reigning diva of the british disco, carroll's peers often treated her badly, as a result of her mixed heritage. "we really felt racism in this country. we moved into this council house in cambridge and we got the national front putting bricks through the window and we got verbal abuse on the street," carroll explains, "one evening, my aunt came over and we were having a barbecue and some of cour racist neighbours started shouting at us, in our garden, 'you people are savagtes. why can't you eat indoors, like everybody esle'". like gloria estefan, however, carroll did the best to ignore the taunts of others, choosing, instead, to pour herself whole-heartedly into her music. though carroll lacked formal vocal training, she was soon winning local talent competitions and, by age thirteen, was covering american legend barbara streisand.
towards the end of her teenage years, carroll returned to the united states, where she quickly obtained work as a session singer. as the late 1980s gave rise to such dance-focused acts as paula abdul, martha wash and kym mazelle, carroll was able to elevate her status to that of featured vocalist for several of the myriad of producers that controlled the genre. singles with masquerade"set it off" and "one nation"resulted in suprise success, and collaborations with the pasadenas lead to carroll landing her first recording contract with jive/zomba. a string of successful singles"people all around the world", "me sienta sola" and a cover of pop ingénue dionne warwick's "walk on by"released as the 1980s gave way to the 1990s earned carroll recognition through great britain as a club favorite. collaboration on the brothers in rhythm anthem "peace and harmony" ensured that word of her talent spread to american shores.
eventually, carroll severed her ties with jive/zomba records and became affilliated with first avenue management, who paired the up-and-coming diva with relative unknowns, quartz. the union of the two resulted in an innovative reworking of carole king's "it's too late", which topped dance charts and made an impressive cross-over showing in the top ten of the pop charts. carroll and quartz teamed up again to produce "naked love" before first avenue decided that her position as a headliner had been established enough to break her as a solo act. having established a musical rapport with nigel lowiswho co-wrote "naked love"carroll asked for and received his assistance on her 1992 solo debut, "ain't no man". if there were any doubt remaining, "ain't no man" proved that there weren't no woman who was ready to dominant the british club scene the way dina carroll was. in the wake of the all-out dina carroll frenzy that ensued, lowis and carroll continued their partnership with their sights set upon completing an entire lp. unlike many dance music artists, carroll participates greatly in both the songwriting and production of her music, a fact that, she explains, is often overlooked, "other artists get recognition for it, but sometimes, particularly when it's about a woman's contribution to that process, it can be forgotten."
as stated before, however, the stir created by dina carroll's ermergence upon the music scene did not go unnoticed in the united states. though the great majority of americans are ambivalent, at best, when it comes to non-american artists and completely disdainful of disco, carroll's talent was not lost on dance music affecionados. in fact, the regard in which dina carroll was held compelled c+c music factory founders robert clivilles and david cole to invite carroll to be the first british artist to ever work with them, resulting in the release of the retro-infused "special kind of love". as 1992 drew to a close, carroll tentatively released her first ballad, "so close"; worried that the fickle tastes of the public would cause them to receive her junior effort with distaste, her fears were soon allayed when the track rose to the top twenty. having been giving an ample taste of carroll's skills, her fans anxiously welcomed the 1993 release of her first full-length album, so close. with incredible momentum created by the release of her previous singles, so close continued to spin off classic tracks, including "this time", "express" and "don't be a stranger".
the same year that so close was released, dina carroll's first headlining tour was announced. a fool-hearty task for most dance music artists to undertake, dina carroll made music history by selling out a national tour, accompanied by a then-unknown eternal. during her concerts, carroll took the opportunity to further demonstrate her vocal accumen by covering rod stewart's "i don't want to talk about it" and "andrew lloyd webber's "the perfect year"the later, of which, carroll would later be personally invited by webber to record for her sophomore lp. by 1994, so close had sold over 1.5 million copies in the united kingdom, alone, and earned carroll the coveted title of best female artist at the prestigious brit awards. with no apparent end in sight of the adoration she was receiving from fans, carroll announced a second fifteen-venue tour in support of the same album, including venues such as birmingham's nec and wembley arena! again, the tour sold out. to date, this disco diva has sold more than half a million concert tickets; a phenomenal feat for a dance music artist.
by 1995, the public was becomming restless in anticipation of new material from their favorite artist, but carroll was entrenched in disputes with a&m records, who had been distributing her music. shrouded in secrecy, carroll eventually switched from a&m records to mercury records, but it wasn't until 1996 that the first single ("escaping") from her sophomore release (only human) was released. backed with "mind, body & soul", the single became an immediate hit and proved that carroll's absence from the public consciousness had not translated into a loss of admiration. as the year came to a close "only human", backed with "run to you", was released, providing dancefloor denizens with an anthem to last them through the new year. carroll was honored with another best female vocalist nomination again, in 1997.
that same year, carroll lived up to her album's title, contracting a hearing disability that prevented her from fully participating in the promotion of only human. fortunately, having completed the album, carroll was able to resolve her condition as more singles were released. successfully recovering from repairative surgery, carroll set out to produce her third album in 1998, once again returning to the united states to work with producer rhett lawrence (mariah carey, cece winans, eternal, monica). the first two singles resulting from their collaboration, "one, two, three" and "living for the weekend", have given fans a taste of the self-titled album to be released in the summer of 2000. the much-anticipated album will also include a cover of rock 'n' roll hall of famer, dusty springfield's "son of a preacher man", which was originally slated for released as a follow-up to "one, two, three", but was delayed in respect of the recently deceased diva. instead, carroll sent fans back to the dancefloors with "without love". of the new album, carroll remarked, "it's a whole new direction. i'm not so afraid to reveal myself on a personal levelin styling and in musicso the music is much more relaxed. many people have written to me and told me that they had babies to [so close]; they really lived their lives for the album, which i really didn't expect, but hoped for. if i could gain that again, that, for me, would be the ultimate."
having long since passed the heyday of the disco diva, women working within today's dance music industry are often under-valued for their contributions as vocalists, songwriters and producers. while many of clubland's divas, frustrated by their constant attempts to change industry and public perception of them, have resigned themselves to their roles as mere frontwomen for predominantly male producers, a considerable handfulultra naté, adeva, joi cardwell, alison limerick, etc.have managed to resist outside pressure, producing music that is as thought-provoking as it is danceable. for making a name for herself within the dance genre while simultaneously exploring others and for completely divastating her native england, dina carroll is truly a diva to watch.