In 1972 she placed fourth at the Eurovision Song Contest with “Als het om de liefde gaat”, whose title translates as “When It’s All About Love”.
And today Dutch Eurovision fans were oozing love — and shock and sadness — as they learned that Sandra Reemer had passed away after a long fight with breast cancer.
Aged just 66, Sandra was a symbol not just of Eurovision, but also of the tolerance and diversity her country is known for. Born in Indonesia — and of Dutch, Chinese and Javanese heritage — she competed in the contest at a time when its performers were cut from a more homogenous cloth. She blazed a trail, for sure, but Dutch remember her mostly for her spirit, lovely voice and songs that capture an era of Dutch musical history.
She competed three times — in 1972, 1976 and 1979 — tying her with Corry Brokken for the most appearances. For her first outing she competed with Dries Holten under the group name Sandra & Andres. She returned four years later and took centre stage on her own two feet — and with her real name. “The Party’s Over” placed ninth.
A master of re-invention, she returned again in 1979 as the front-woman of the Dutch six-piece Xandra, who sang “Colorado”. It spoke of her love for the American state, where “the dollar is not so expensive” and where she could “buy a second-hand horse”. Despite finishing 12th, it went on to become a Top 10 hit in Sweden. She later performed backing vocals for The Netherlands’ 1983 act Bernadette.
Dutch Eurovision commentator Cornald Maas was among those paying tribute to the singer, who was also a successful TV presenter.
— Cornald Maas (@cornaldm) June 6, 2017
He wrote: “#elegant, with her heart in the right place, and with the guts to represent The Netherlands 3 x (successfully) at the #
We just received the sad news Sandra Reemer (ESC 1972, 1976, 1979 & our 2014 EiC host) lost her fight against cancer. RIP, dear Sandra ? pic.twitter.com/yr3NRTKQZT
— EurovisionInConcert (@ESCinConcert) June 6, 2017
Last summer, she continued to spread the love with Eurovision fans, singing a 15-minute medley at the Berlin Eurovision Weekend, which you can watch below.
Last year the singer and her team put her personal web site on hiatus so that they could “fully focus on her healing.”
The web site asked fans to continue leaving messages in the online guestbook. Owing to her treatment, they explained, “she unfortunately cannot respond to comments, but she definitely reads them. All your loving messages contribute to her recovery process.”
If there’s any comfort to be had, it’s in knowing that Sandra lived her life to the full and touched millions along the way. After a prolonged and brave fight there is, as in the lyrics of her 1976 entry, peace: “Yes, the party’s over now, One of those bad dreams, Suddenly came over me, But now I feel at ease.”