Melanie Thornton, an American pop singer who made a name for herself in Germany with the duo La Bouche, was among the victims of an airliner crash Saturday in Switzerland. She was 34. Thornton was tra

Melanie Thornton, an American pop singer who made a name for herself in Germany with the duo La Bouche, was among the victims of an airliner crash Saturday in Switzerland. She was 34. Thornton was traveling Saturday to Zurich as part of a European tour to promote her album "Ready to Fly" when the Crossair flight from Berlin went down in a wooded area a few miles short of the runway, killing her and 23 others. The cause of the crash is being investigated.

"Melanie's death is a shock for all of us," George Glueck, head of her Berlin-based record company X-cell Records, said in a statement today (Nov. 26). "We have lost more than just a great artist. The many years of working together made her a real friend."

A native of Charleston, S.C., Thornton said in interviews that she got hooked on singing as a child, mimicking the Motown classics that her mother listened to. After performing with various acts in the United States and with just $15 in her pocket, she moved to Germany in 1992 to join her sister in the western city of Kaiserslautern.

Her career took off when she teamed up with rapper Lane McCray in the duo La Bouche, which is French for "The Mouth."

La Bouche's greatest success was in Europe, but the group was a force on the Billboard charts between 1995-98 with singles such as "Be My Lover," "Sweet Dreams," "You Won't Forget Me," and "Fallin' in Love." "Be My Lover" and "Sweet Dreams" reached No. 1 and No. 3, respectively, on Billboard's Hot Dance Music: Club Play chart.

In 1996, La Bouche entertained some 4,000 young fans at an outdoor concert in Tirana, Albania. The concert was described as the first by a major international musical group in the capital of the former Communist nation.

Thornton went solo last year and released her first album in May. Her new single, "Wonderful Dream," went on sale today, as scheduled, with the expressed wishes of her family. The song is also being used in a new Coca-Cola commercial.

Thornton is survived by her husband. They had no children. Details of funeral arrangements were not immediately available.


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