Sad news from the Netherlands, as Dutch diva of Eurovision Sandra Reemer has died from breast cancer, aged 66.
Sandra Reemer graced the Eurovision stage four times: together with singer Andres in 1972 (Als het om de liefde gaat, 4th place), solo in 1976 representing her country on home soil (The party’s over, 9th place), as part of the group Xandra in 1979 (Colorado, 12th place), and as backing vocalist of singer Bernadette in 1983 (Sing me a song, 7th place). Moreover, she participated in the national Dutch selection in 1970.
Sandra Reemer, who is of Indonesian-Dutch heritage, became a familiar face on Dutch television as the charming assistant of host Jos Brink in the TV-show Wedden Dat?, and as host of the show Showmasters, among others.
Sandra Reemer also kept on singing, solo, and for several years as part of the group The Dutch Diva’s, together with former Eurovision participants Marga Bult (Marcha, Eurovision 1987) and Maggie MacNeal (Eurovision 1974 and 1980). She also hosted Eurovision In Concert in 2014.
A closer look at Sandra Reemer’s life and career
Born Barbara Alexandra Reemer, or Xandra, in Bandung (Indonesia) in 1950, she was a child of Frans and Nel Reemer, and of Dutch, Javanese and Chinese descent. Coming to the Netherlands following the Indonesian independence, little Xandra went to a school of nuns, who changed her name to Sandra, as they considered the “X” to be diabolical.
Sandra Reemer started singing from age ten, and had her first hit at eleven, a version of the Italian 1961 Eurovision entry Al di là , by Betty Curtis.
In 1964 she sang Als jij maar wacht, the Dutch version of Non ho l’età by Gigliola Cinquetti, the 1964 Eurovision winner. In 1970 Sandra Reemer participated in the Dutch national selection for Eurovision for the first time, with the song Voorbij is de winter (“The winter is over”), although she did not win.
She graced the Eurovision stage for the first time as part of the successful duo Sandra & Andres in 1972, that she formed with singer Andres (Dries Holten).
With The party’s over, Sandra Reemer represented the Netherlands in 1976, in Den Haag (The Hague). A few years later she started the group Xandra, with herself as lead vocalist, representing the Netherlands at the ESC 1979 with Colorado. Colorado became a huge hit in the Scandinavian countries and entered the top-5 in seven countries, including in Denmark, where Sandra Reemer/Xandra was admitted into the Music Hall Of Fame.
From the 1980’s onward, Sandra Reemer focussed more on television work, although she kept on releasing singles. In 1987 the album Best Of My Love, with covers, was released. Various singles followed, entering the Dutch Top 40 singles chart. In 1996 the Dutch-language album Natuurlijk was released.
Sandra’s later years
From 2000 to 2005, Sandra Reemer made a comeback to the spotlights as part of the group The Dutch Diva’s. She also went on performing during major events as a solo artist, including at the Amsterdam Diner, the Gay Pride, and more.
In 2008 she started the Sandra Reemer Foundation (SRF), aimed at helping disadvantaged children in developing countries. The foundation unfortunately had to stop in 2013, but it has helped more than 500 children in Indonesia, Africa and Guatemala.
In 2010, the singer organized an exhibition in the Lloyd Hotel Amsterdam, about the history of the Dutch Eurovision dresses.
Early in 2017, Sandra Reemer participated in the reality soap Gouden Jaren: Indonesië (“Golden Years: Indonesia”), based on the British series The Real Marigold Hotel, together with colleague Ben Cramer (Eurovision 1973).
Today, 6 June 2017, Sandra Reemer passed away due to breast cancer. ESCToday sends sincere sympathy to Sandra’s family, friends, and fans. A true Dutch diva and Eurovision icon, she will always be remembered, as her music lives on.
A special condolence register has been opened via the singer’s official website in which messages can be left for Sandra.