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Culture

The 'Echo' Brings out The Stars

Stars like Sting, Alanis Morissette, Lenny Kravitz and Dido performed at Germany's Echo awards ceremony in Berlin on Thursday. The Echo is Germany's most important award for recording artists.

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Caterina Valente - Echo 2002 for her lifetime achievements

In recent years, the Echo awards have made a name for themselves internationally.

The German record industry first awarded the prizes in 1992. Each year, Echo's in 25 categories go to the artists who have sold the most records in the German market. And since Germany is the world's second biggest music market, recording artists have become increasingly aware of the Echo's value to their career.

And the winner is...

This year, Enya's Only Time won the Echo prize for the best international pop song. Dido and Robbie Williams received the awards for best female and male international pop artists. Destiny's Child took the prize as the best international pop group. Rammstein, Linkin Park and Sascha also each won Echo awards in their respective musical categories.

New kids in town

One of the striking aspects of this year's awards was that many of the winners were virtually unknown only a year ago. For instance the most successful German pop group this year was No Angels. They hadn't even released their first album at the time the last Echo awards.

The band No Angels was artificially created through a television program called Popstars. The format was somewhat based on the same principles as "Big Brother" or "Survivor".

In this case, however, young women from all over the country auditioned to form a girl pop band. Cameras followed their every step. After weeks of tests, training and rehearsals, five women remained, who then formed No Angels.

Thanks to the long-running TV-show Popstars, the members of No Angels were indeed already stars in Germany even before they sang their first note in a recording studio.

Their mostly teen-aged fans then catapulted the first No Angels single Daylight in Your Eyes and their first album Elle'ments to the top of the German charts.

Newcomers' night

Another successful newcomers at this year's Echo awards was Sarah Connor, who won as best national female rock singer. The 21-year-old debuted in the German charts last May with the dance track Let's go back to bed.

Her most recent hit, the soul ballad "From Sarah with Love", made it into the top ten in Germany and many other European countries.

Connor calls her style of singing "green eyed soul" and says artists like Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and Missy Elliott are her idols. But the person who got her hooked on music, says Sarah Connor, was her grandfather. He was a jazz musician in New Orleans.

Like so many other German recording artists, Sarah Connor now hopes that she'll also make it in the U.S.

If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere...

But there is only one German singer who ever got to the top of the American charts: Nena. In 1983, she took her song 99 Luftballons all the way up the U.S. Top 40.

Nena was also one of the guests at Thursday's Echo awards ceremony. But the veteran pop singer wasn't thrilled by the event. She called the official awards ceremony a drawn-out, tiresome affair and said she only looked forward to the party scheduled after the tree-and-a-half hour gala.

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