First Eurovision winner Lys Assia dies at 94

Swiss singer won the first edition of the contest in 1956 with the song Refrain.

The Swiss singer Lys Assia, the first winner of the Eurovision song contest, has died aged 94.

Assia, who won with the song Refrain in the first edition of the contest in 1956 in Lugano, Switzerland, died on Saturday in a Zurich hospital, Eurovision said in a statement.

Assia, whose real name was Rosa Mina Schärer, was born in 1924 in Rupperswil, in the north of Switzerland. She began her career as a dancer and turned to singing, achieving her biggest hit in 1950 with O Mein Papa, Eurovision said.

Assia took part in the contest again in 1957 and came second in 1958 with the song Giorgio. She tried to return as a contestant again in 2011 but was not selected to sing for Switzerland in the 2012 competition.

Assia is the only Swiss national to have won Eurovision, although the Canadian singer Céline Dion won the contest on behalf of Switzerland in 1988 with the song Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi.

This year’s Eurovision song contest will be held in Lisbon, Portugal, in May.

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