Cinquetti was born in Verona. At the age of 16 she won the Sanremo Music Festival in 1964 singing "Non ho l'età" ("I'm Not Old Enough"), with music composed by Nicola Salerno and lyrics by Mario Panzeri. Her win enabled her to represent Italy in the Eurovision Song Contest 1964 in Copenhagen with the same song, where she claimed her country's first ever victory in the event.
The song became an international success, even spending 17 weeks in the UK Singles Chart and ending the year as the 88th best-selling single in the U.K. in 1964, something highly unusual for Italian-language material. It sold over three million copies, and was awarded a platinum disc in August 1964. In 1966, she recorded "Dio, come ti amo" ("God, How I Love You"), which became another international hit.
In 1974, Cinquetti took part in the Eurovision Song Contest again, this time held in Brighton, Sussex, England. Her song was called "Sì" (which translates as 'yes' in English, and which became quite controversial in Italy at the time, with a referendum on the legalisation of divorce in the offing, because of the title), and came second to Swedish foursome ABBA with their song "Waterloo".
Cinquetti scored a bigger UK hit single (in terms of chart placing) than she had ten years earlier, with an English-language version of "Sì" (entitled "Go (Before You Break My Heart)") peaking at No. 8.
In the following occasions, Gigliola Cinquetti performed at the Sanremo Music Festival1964 "Non ho l'età (Per amarti)" – with Patricia Carli
1965 "Ho bisogno di vederti" – with Connie Francis
1966 "Dio come ti amo" – with Domenico Modugno
1968 "Sera" – with Giuliana Valci
1969 "La pioggia" – with France Gall
1970 "Romantico blues" with Bobby Solo
1971 "Rose nel buio" – with Ray Conniff
1972 "Gira l'amore (Caro bebè)"
1985 "Chiamalo amore"'
1995 "Giovane vecchio cuore"
She returned to fame in Eurovision Song Contest 1974, again representing Italy. Performing the song "Sì" ("Yes"), the music and lyrics of which were written by Mario Panzeri, Daniele Pace, Lorenzo Pilat and Carrado Conti, she came second after "Waterloo", sung by Sweden's ABBA.
According to author and historian, John Kennedy O'Connor's, The Eurovision Song Contest – The Official History, the live telecast of her song was banned in her home country by the Italian national broadcaster RAI, as the event partially coincided with the campaigning for the 1974 Italian referendum on divorce which was held a month later in May.
RAI censored the song because of concerns that the name and lyrics of the song (which constantly repeated the word 'Sì') could be accused of being a subliminal message and a form of propaganda to influence the Italian voting public to vote 'Yes' in the referendum. The song remained censored on most Italian state TV and radio stations for over a month.
An English language version of the song, "Go (Before You Break My Heart)", reached number 8 in the UK Singles Chart in June 1974.
One of her other songs, "Alle Porte del Sole" (released in 1973), was re-recorded in English (as "Door of the Sun") and Italian by Al Martino, two years after its initial release, and reached No. 17 on Billboard's Hot 100 in the United States. Cinquetti's own English version of the song was released as a single by CBS Records in August 1974, with her original 1973 Italian version on the B-side.
Cinquetti went on to co-host the Eurovision Song Contest 1991 with Toto Cutugno, who had brought the event to Italy with his victory in Zagreb the previous year – the country's first win in the contest since her own twenty-six years earlier.
In the 1990s she became a professional journalist and TV presenter, and she currently hosts the current affairs programme Italia Rai on RAI International.Perfect Best, compilation album
"Non ho l'età" (1964)
"Dio, come ti amo" (1966)
"Alle porte del sole" (1973)
The Knights of the Quest (2001)