Swiss pop/rock singer Sina is generally classified as a Mundartrocksängerin, signifying that she sings in a dialect distinctly different from standard German. While this no doubt affected her crossover potential in Germany and Austria, where her music goes mostly unheard, it helped endear her to Swiss listeners -- particularly those from her region of the country, the canton of Valais -- who could relate to her culturally. Sina's popular breakthrough came in 1994 with an adaptation of "Son of a Preacher Man," and though she never scored many national hit singles, her albums regularly sold well in Switzerland, often charting in the Top Five. In fact, her second album, Wiiblich (1995), was a number one hit, earning her a Prix Walo in 1995. Over the years, Sina frequently collaborated with other Swiss artists, most notably Polo Hofer, Erika Stucky, and the Swiss Jazz Orchestra.
Born Ursula Bellwald on May 28, 1966, in Visp in the canton of Valais in the south of Switzerland, Sina grew up in the town of Gampel and worked in Geneva as a Bankkauffrau (i.e., bank employee) for a few years upon the completion of her schooling. At age 17 she won first place in the Oberwalliser Schlagerfestival with her rendition of the song "The House of the Rising Sun." From 1983 to 1993 she studied various styles of music -- classical, jazz, pop/rock, improvisation -- and performed in the musicals Annie Get Your Gun and Jesus Christ Superstar.
Singing in dialect, Sina made her full-length recording debut in 1994 with a self-titled album featuring her breakthrough hit interpretation of "Son of a Preacher Man" (i.e., "Där Sohn vom Pfarrär," adapted by Polo Hofer), originally popularized by Dusty Springfield on Dusty in Memphis (1969). Sina proved popular in Switzerland, charting for 23 weeks and peaking at number seven. Her follow-up album, Wiiblich (1995), went all the way to number one. This chart-topping success earned her a 1995 Prix Walo in the Pop category.
Sina's third album, Häx Odär Heilig (1997), a Top Ten hit, spawned her first nationally charting single, "Immär und Ewig" (number 43). Her next album, 4 (1999), performed similarly, charting Top Five and spawning another Top 50 hit, "Nix Värbii." Also released as a single from 4 was "Där Papa Isch äs Chorbi Gsi," a interpretation of "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone," originally popularized by the Temptations in 1972; the single was billed as a duet with Polo (i.e., Polo Hofer), who adapted the song and who previously had adapted "Son of a Preacher Man" as well. Another duet with Hofer, "Wenn es Nötig Wär," was featured on his 2000 album with Die Schmetterband, Härzbluet.
In 2001, after some collaborative and acting work, Sina returned with a new album, Marzipan. Featuring her third Top 50 hit single to date, "Propäller," the album charted at number two and earned her another Prix Walo, this one in the category of Singer/Songwriter. In 2002 her label, Muve, released a greatest-hits collection, Bescht of Sina; also that year she toured extensively, including a trip to China, and participated in the opening ceremony of the Swiss National Exhibition in Biel, Expo.02. In 2003 Sina began touring with jazz singer and fellow Valais native Erika Stucky in promotion of their ongoing Toluheischis Vorläbu performance project.
In 2005 Sina released her first album of new material in four years, All:Tag. Though the album didn't spawn a charting single, All:Tag itself was a number two hit on the albums chart. Sina's next hit single came in 2007 with "Alperose," a Top 20 collaboration with Polo Hofer, Sandee (i.e., Sandra Moser), and Kandlbauer (i.e., Daniel Kandlbauer) featured on Hofer's Duette 1977-2007 collection. Also in 2007 she collaborated with the Swiss Jazz Orchestra for a couple songs ("Däheimu," "Aber Zärtlech Bisch du Nid") on their album Buebetröim. In 2008 she released her first album of new material in a few years, In Wolkä Fische. One of her most popular albums to date, In Wolkä Fische spawned the Top 25 single "Wänn Nit Jetzt Wänn Dä" and was itself a number two hit. ~ Jason Birchmeier
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