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Liverpool Icons: Read the story of Sonia, the Scouse songstress who nearly brought Eurovision to the city in 1993

1 year ago

Liverpool Icons: Read the story of Sonia, the Scouse songstress who nearly brought Eurovision to the city in 1993
The songs of Sonia to be used in the soundtrack

As Eurovision fever descends on the city, it’s only fitting that we take the time to celebrate our very own Scouse songstress, Sonia. 

Back in 1993, the Walton lass came within a whisker of winning the song contest with her track, ‘Better the Devil You Know’, almost bringing Eurovision to Liverpool in the process. 

Thanks to the conditions of her agreement with the BBC, the city was set to host the competition the following year had she got her hands on the prize.

However, despite storming into an early lead, Sonia was ultimately pipped to the post by host nation Ireland, finishing second on 164 points. 

Crazy to think that we came so close to hosting Eurovision almost 30 years ago. Although it’s fair to say that the city is in a much stronger position to put on the event these days!

Whilst her name is forever synonymous with the contest, Sonia’s career brought us so much more. 

As well as topping the charts, she’s also a star of stage and screen and can rightly claim her place as a Liverpool Icon. 

Here’s a look at the life and times of one of the city’s most successful performers. 

Born Sonia Evans in 1971 and brought up in Walton, she was a precocious performer from a young age, attending the Elliott-Clarke Performing Arts school from 8 years old. 

Such was the force of her talent that, by the time she was 16, Sonia had the LAMDA (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts) gold medal and the world at her feet. 

But rather than music, it was in the world of TV that teenage Sonia initially made her first appearances in the public eye, starring in minor roles on Liverpool-based Brookside and Bread. 

Music was her passion, though, and as well as talent, the young Scouser also had steely determination, earning her big break by constantly badgering legendary music producer Pete Waterman for a chance to sing for him. 

Eventually, relenting to her persistence, Waterman invited Sonia to sing live on his radio show. She performed with aplomb, securing a record deal with up-and-coming music mogul Simon Cowell. 

She would go on to take the UK charts by storm. 

Her 1989 debut single, ‘You’ll Never Stop Me Loving You’, climbed to Number 1 in the UK charts. 

Still only 18, Sonia became one of the youngest British female singers to achieve this impressive feat. The single also reached Number 1 in Ireland and achieved a top 10 position on the US Dance Chart. 

Hot on the heels of this initial success, the following year saw the release of her debut album, Everybody Knows. 

The album would reach 7 in the UK album charts, selling 500,000 copies.  

But the accolades didn’t stop there. All five singles reached the UK Top 20, making Sonia the first British Female solo artist to achieve the feat. Not bad for a teenager from North Liverpool. 

A sixth top-20 hit was to follow with ‘You’ve Got a Friend’, a Childline charity single recorded with the band Big Fun. 

After leaving her record label, Sonia released a self-titled second album.

The first single, Only Fools (Never Fall in Love), gave the singer a remarkable 7th top 20 single in only two years and her third top ten UK hit. 

Before her heart-breaking second place finish on Eurovision, the singer also contributed to Band Aid II’s charity single, ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’, with the likes of Jason Donovan, Kylie Minogue and Wet Wet Wet. 

Throughout the remainder of the 90s, Sonia continued to release music but never quite reached the heights of her earlier hits. 

However, the Scouser was forging a new path in musical theatre and television. 

She debuted alongside Minder’s Dennis Waterman in Slice of Saturday Night before replacing Debbie Gibson as Sandy in the West End production of Grease. 

In 1997, Sonia appeared alongside fellow 80’s pop icons Luke Goss and Sinitta in the stage musical What a Feeling!, which also spawned a soundtrack album. 

Over on the small screen, she starred as Bunty Savage, the outrageous daughter of the late great Paul O’Grady’s legendary alter-ego, Lily Savage.  

Later, she would appear on reality TV shows Reborn in the USA with fellow UK artists Michelle Gayle and Gina G and in Celebrity 5 Go Caravanning on Channel 5. 

Music is Sonia’s first love, and March 2023 saw the release of her new album, Love Train: The Philly Album. 

With a career spanning over three decades and an iconic voice and look, Sonia is one of Liverpool’s favourite daughters. 

And we’re sure she’ll be firmly behind Mae Muller in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, so we can finally celebrate a Liverpool-led victory all those years after Sonia came so close. 

For your ultimate guide to Eurovision, click here and to follow Sonia, click here.



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