The first ever Eurovision performer on stage – also the first Dutch Eurovision representative, Jetty Paerl, died aged 92. De Vogels van Holland (written by Annie M.G. Schmidt and Cor Lemaire) was the very first entry ever performed in the Eurovision history.
Jetty Paerl (Henriette Nanette Paerl) was a Dutch singer, who was most famous in the 1950s and 1960s. She was married to Dutch artist Cees Bantzinger. Born in Amsterdam, during World War II, she lived in London, during the occupation of the Netherlands by Nazi Germany.
There she participated in the broadcasts of Radio Oranje, the Dutch government in exile, and was known as Jetje van Radio Oranje (“Jetty of Radio Orange”). She appears in episode 18 of the 1970s BBC documentary The World at War. In 1956 she represented the Netherlands as the first performer in the first Eurovision Song Contest with the song “De Vogels Van Holland” (The Birds of Holland) written by Annie M.G. Schmidt and composed by Cor Lemaire. At the time the contest was only broadcast via radio, and only the winning song was announced.
Statement by Lys Assia: “I am very sad to hear about Jetty Paerl’s passing. She was a great artist. We started our careers at the same time. She represented The Netherlands at the first Eurovision, where I won. May God bless Jetty, her family, friends and fans.”