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Nena (born Gabriele Susanne Kerner, March 24, 1960, Hagenmarker, North Rhine-Westphaliamarker, West Germanymarker) is a German singer and actress. She rose to international fame in 1984 with the New German Wave song "99 Luftballons", re-recorded in English as "99 Red Balloons". "Nena" was also the name of the band with whom she released the song. With the re-recording and subsequent release of some of her old songs, her career re-emerged in 2002. In 2007, she co-founded the school "Neue Schule Hamburg".


Early life

Gabriele Susanne Kerner was born in 1960 in Hagenmarker while her family lived in the nearby town of Breckerfeldmarker. She spent the earliest part of her childhood in Breckerfeld and later lived in Hagenmarker. She acquired her nickname, based on the Spanish word "nena" (colloquial for "niña"), or "little girl", at the age of three, while on a vacation to Spain with her parents. In 1977 she left high school prior to graduation, and in the three following years she was trained as a goldsmith.

Musical beginnings

Her musical career began in the summer of 1979 when guitarist Rainer Kitzmann offered her a position as the lead singer in his band, The Stripes. The group had a minor hit with the song "Ecstasy", but never achieved mainstream success, and soon disbanded.

In 1981 Nena and her then-boyfriend Rolf Brendel moved to West Berlin, where they met future band members, guitarist Carlo Karges, keyboard player Uwe Fahrenkrog-Petersen, and bass player Jürgen Dehmel. Together they formed the band "Nena".In 1982 "Nena", released their first single, "Nur geträumt" ("Only dreamt"), which became an instant hit in Germany after the band appeared on the German television show Musikladen. The single reportedly sold 40,000 copies the day after the song appeared on the show and reached number two in the German charts.

International success and breakup

In 1983 the band released its first album "Nena", which contained the singles "Leuchtturm" ("Lighthouse") and "99 Luftballons" (the English version is called "99 Red Balloons" although the original German version does not mention any color). 99 Luftballons became a number-one hit in Germany in 1983, and went on to major international chart success the following year, an English version hitting number one in the UKmarker and the original German version hitting number two in the USmarker. It was also a huge hit in many other countries, and to this day it is one of the most well-known German rock songs in many parts of the world.Although 99 Luftballons was Nena's only hit in the English-speaking world, the band continued to enjoy success in several European countries in the following years. The band split in 1987, and Nena went solo thereafter.

Personal life

Nena started dating Swiss actor Benedict Freitag shortly after the band separated in 1987. The couple had three children together, the first being Christopher Daniel, who was born disabled allegedly due to medical mistakes made during the birth that caused Nena to go into cardiac arrest. He died at the age of 11 months. In 1990 they had twins, Larissa Marie and Sakias Manuel. After splitting with Freitag, Nena started a relationship with drummer and music producer Philipp Palm from Stuttgartmarker, with whom she had two children, Samuel Vincent (1995), and Simeon Joel (1997). The couple and the four children currently live in Hamburgmarker. Throughout the 1990s, Nena released a wide range of solo albums, a number of them consisting of songs for children. Simultaneously, she hosted several TV shows, including Metro and Countdown Grand Prix, the German preselection for the Eurovision Song Contest, in 1998.

Return to prominence

Nena (Wien 2008)
Nena (Wien 2008)
In 2002 Nena celebrated her 20th anniversary on stage with the album Nena feat. Nena, a disc consisting of newly arranged recordings of her hits from the 1980s. This album marked a "comeback" for Nena, and spawned a number of successful chart entries. The remake of "Anyplace, Anywhere, Anytime" as an English-German duet with Kim Wilde was a hit in various European countries, reaching the Number 1 spot in the Netherlands and Austria, and Number 3 in Germany, in 2003. A DVD followed: the 2005 album Willst du mit mir gehn ("Do You Wanna Go with Me?") which quickly achieved platinum status. The first single from the album, "Liebe ist" ("Love Is"), reached number 1 on the German charts in early 2005, and was the theme song for a German telenovela, Verliebt in Berlin. Nena's 2005 tour in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland in November and December 2005 had several sold-out concerts. In 2004, Nena took the stage during the Howard Jones 20th Anniversary concert at Shepherd's Bush Empire in Londonmarker. Nena sang "99 Luftballons", with both German and English lyrics. In October 2007, Nena released a new album entitled Cover Me, made up entirely of cover songs. David Bowie, Rolling Stones and Rammstein are three of the bands covered. She also released the single, "Ich Kann nix Dafür" ("I can't do anything about it") in April 2007 for the film, Vollidiot ("Complete Idiot"). Nena also released a single for her cover of 'She's a Rainbow' by the Rolling Stones. It was released in the USA and the UK and made #42 in the British Charts. She is planning on releasing a new album entitled "Schön Schön Schön" on September 25 2009. A still-untitled single from this upcoming album will be released on September 4. Nena also recorded and released a new version of her hit song "99 Luftballons" in 2009, which more closely follows the 1980s original, in contrast to her 2002 version. Some parts of the new version are in French.

Nena will release a new single on the fourth of September, 2009, and a new album on the 23rd.

Other work

Besides her singing career, she has also voiced the character Saphira for the German dub of the movie Eragon and the role of the Princess for the German version of Arthur and the Invisibles alongside Tokio Hotel's Bill Kaulitz. Kaulitz has also stated on many occasions that Nena is his favorite singer.

In 2007, jointly with Philipp Palm, Thomas Simmerl, and Silke Steinfadt, she founded the Neue Schule Hamburg, a school following the Sudbury model.

Nena wrote an autobiographical book, Willst du mit mir gehn (Do you want to go with me?), jointly with Claudia Thesenfitz, a journalist. Nena's contributions are her disparate accounts of various episodes in her life. Most of Thesenfitz's contributions are excerpts from interviews of many of Nena's friends, co-workers, and relatives.



  • Nena (1983) #1 GER, #1 AUT
  • ? (1984) #1 GER, #1 AUT, #1 CHE
  • 99 Luftballons (1984)
  • Feuer und Flamme (1985) #2 GER, #16 AUT, #5 CHE
  • It's All In The Game (1985)
  • Eisbrecher (1986) #45 GER
  • Wunder gescheh'n (1989) #23 GER
  • Komm lieber Mai... (1990) #45 GER
  • Nena Die Band (1991)
  • Bongo Girl (1992) #32 GER
  • Und alles dreht sich (1994) #53 GER
  • Nena singt die schönsten Kinderlieder (1994)
  • Nena Live (1995)
  • Unser Apfelhaus (1995) #69 GER
  • Nena und die Bambus Bären Bande (1996)
  • Jamma nich (1997) #29 GER
  • Nenas Weihnachtsreise (1997) #28 GER
  • Wenn alles richtig ist, dann Stimmt was nich (1998) #42 GER
  • Nena macht... Rabatz (1999)
  • Chokmah (2001) #18 GER
  • Nenas Tausend Sterne (2002)
  • Nena feat. Nena (2002) #2 GER
  • Madou und das Licht der Fantasie (2002)
  • Nena Live Nena (2004) #31 GER
  • Willst du mit mir gehn (2005) #2 GER
  • Cover me (2007) #6 GER
  • Himmel, Sonne, Wind und Regen (2008)
  • Made in Germany (2009) #3 GER

Bootleg albums



Year Title Chart Positions Album
GER Singlesmarker AUT Singlesmarker CHE Singlesmarker US Singlesmarker UK Singlesmarker
1979 "Ecstasy" - - - - - The Stripes
1980 "Strangers" - - - - - The Stripes
1980 "Tell me your name" - - - - - The Stripes
1981 "Don't you think that i'm a lady " - - - - - The Stripes
1982 "Nur geträumt" #2 #9 #5 - - Nena
1983 "99 Luftballons" #1 #1 #1 - - Nena
1983 "Kino"(Promo) - - - - - Nena
1983 "Leuchtturm" #2 #3 - - - Nena
1983 "? (Fragezeichen)" #3 #4 #1 - - ? (Fragezeichen)
1983 "99 red balloons" - - - 2 1 99 Luftballons - International Album / Nena
1984 "Rette mich" #11 #17 #14 - - ? (Fragezeichen)
1984 "Lass mich dein Pirat sein" #53 - - - - ? (Fragezeichen)
1984 "Irgendwie, irgendwo, irgendwann" #3 #7 #2 - - Feuer und Flamme
1984 "Just a dream" - - - - 78 99 Luftballons - International Album
1984 "At the movies" - - - - -
1984 "? (Questionmark)" - - - - - 99 Luftballons - International Album
1985 "Feuer und Flamme" #8 #18 #14 - - Feuer und Flamme
1985 "Haus der drei Sonnen" #43 - - - - Feuer und Flamme
1985 "Jung wie du" #47 - - - - Feuer und Flamme
1985 "It's all in the game" - - - - - It's all in the game
1985 "Nackt im Wind" 1 - - - - Band für Afrika
1986 "Du kennst die Liebe nicht" - - - - - Feuer und Flamme
1986 "Mondsong" #37 - - - - Eisbrecher
1987 "Engel der Nacht" - - - - - Eisbrecher


Year Title Chart Positions Album
GERmarker ATmarker CHmarker
1989 "Wunder gescheh'n" 19 Wunder gescheh'n
1990 "Du bist überall" 54
"Im Rausch der Liebe"
1990 "Komm lieber Mai" Komm lieber Mai
1992 "Manchmal ist ein Tag ein ganzes Leben" 48 Bongo Girl
"Ohne Ende"
1993 "Viel zuviel Glück" Und Alles Dreht Sich
"N Zentimeter Liebe" (feat. Kralle Krawinkel)
1994 "Hol mich zurück"
"Ich halt dich fest"
1997 "Ganz gelassen..." Jamma Nich
"Jamma Nich"
"Alles Was Du Willst"
"Auf Dich Und Mich"
1998 "Was hast du in meinem Traum gemacht" 91 Wenn alles richtig ist, dann stimmt was nich
"Dann Fiel Mir Auf"
"Das Ist Normal?"
1999 "Ich umarm' die ganze Welt" 98 Tobias Totz und sein Löwe
2001 "Carpe diem" 66 Chokmah
2002 "Oldschool Baby" (with Westbam) 21 Alles Gute — Die Singles 1982–2002
"99 Luftballons" 28 82 88 Nena feat. Nena
2003 "Leuchturm" 7 21 79
"Wunder gescheh'n" (with Friends) 9 26 79
"Anyplace, Anywhere, Anytime" (feat. Kim Wilde) 3 1 9
"Nur geträumt" 79
2004 "Bang Bang" (feat. Toktok) 51
"Schade" (feat. Sam Ragga Band) 37 The Sound of Sam Ragga
2005 "Liebe ist" 1 2 8 Willst du mit mir gehn
"Willst du mit mir gehn" 6 11 34
"Lass Mich" 44 17 70
2006 "Caravan of Love" (feat. Duncan Townsend) 29 35 Tribute to Bravo
2007 "Ich kann nix dafür" (feat. Oliver Pocher and Remmler) 10 41 92 Vollidiot Soundtrack
"Mach die Augen auf" 19 34 57 Cover Me
"Ich werde dich lieben" 34 60
2008 "Dein Herz für Kinder" (with Peter Maffay & Rolf Zuckowski) 10 41 92
2009 "Wir sind wahr" 17 50 Made in Germany

Filmography (for the lead singer)

  • Gib Gas ich will Spaß (1983)
  • Richy Guitar (1985)
  • Der Unsichtbare (1987)
  • Tobias Totz und sein Löwe (1999)
  • Die Abrafaxe – Unter schwarzer Flagge (2001)
  • Die Affäre Semmeling (TV series) (2002)
  • Madou und das Licht der Fantasie (2003)
  • Eragon (German dub, 2006)
  • Arthur und die Minimoys


  1. Willst du mit mir gehn, Nena Kerner and Claudia Thesenfitz, Lübbe, 2005, page 182.

External links

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