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Birth nameMary Sandeman
Born (1947-11-20) 20 November 1947 (age 71)
OriginEdinburgh, Scotland
GenresPop, Folk
Years active1980–1986
LabelsHansa International

Mary Sandeman, better known by her stage name Aneka /əˈnkə/ (born 20 November 1947 in Edinburgh, Scotland),[1] is a Scottish singer.

In 1981 she reached number one in the UK Singles Chart with her song "Japanese Boy". She was well known for the Oriental image she adopted for the song. After her brief foray into pop, she reverted to her real name and re-established herself as an accomplished singer of Scottish traditional music. This music career having begun in Scotland as a teenager and continued up until her first hit, as Mary Sandeman. It was only at the time of the 1981 hit that she changed her name.


Mary Sandeman recorded the song "Japanese Boy" in 1981. Impressed with the results, her record company Hansa decided to release it as a single with full promotion. Having discovered the name 'Aneka' in a telephone directory, Sandeman devised a suitable image for her performances of the song. Released in summer 1981, "Japanese Boy" climbed the charts impressively and reached no. 1 for one week in August.[2]

Buoyed by this success, the record company commissioned an album and looked to find a follow-up single. The song "Little Lady" was chosen, but caused some concern as to what image to use, as it was felt that a Japanese look would be inappropriate for the song as well as giving the artist a limited lifespan. In the event Sandeman adopted a 19th-century 'lady' image, but retained the same high-pitched voice as used for her hit. The song failed to chart highly in the UK, reaching only no. 50 - securing her the label of 'one-hit wonder'.[3]

Sandeman's first pop album, entitled Aneka, was released at the same time (although she had in 1979 released an album under her own name)[4] and featured a mix of upbeat tracks in the vein of "Japanese Boy" and a selection of slow-paced numbers, sung in her 'true' singing voice. The album however failed to chart.

A third single was released in early 1982. This was "Ooh Shooby Doo Doo Lang", which told a light-hearted tale of a singer bemoaning the fact that she has been relegated to backing vocals; the lyrics go on to mention Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder and both "Japanese Boy" and "Little Lady". The song missed the UK chart; however in Europe it gave her a third hit and was followed there by the release of another album track, "I Was Free".[5]

Two further singles were released over the next two years, "Heart to Beat" in 1983 and "Rose, Rose, I Love You" in 1984, but neither of them found success.[6] Sandeman then dropped the Aneka title and continued with the folk-singing career she had begun before her fame.

Sandeman featured in a 2006 Channel 4 documentary titled 'Bring Back The One Hit Wonders'. Justin Lee Collins attempted to organise a one-off performance of as many 'one hit wonders' as possible but despite getting in touch with Sandeman, she declined to take part as she did not want to travel to London from her home in Scotland, and had no desire to perform the hit that made her place in pop history. She stated though that "Japanese Boy" sold five million copies around the world.[citation needed]

She has since confirmed her retirement from music, and was last known to be working as a part-time tour guide for the Scottish city of Stirling.[1]

Mary Sandeman[edit]

Sandeman had been a Gold Medal winner at The Mòd.[7] After her commercial success ended, Sandeman dropped the Aneka name and returned to her Scottish folk roots and continued to perform under her real name. A mezzo-soprano[citation needed], she has appeared with the Scottish Fiddle Orchestra[8] in concert and on record. In 1994 she made a documentary entitled Aite Mo Ghaoil: Mary Sandeman and Islay.[9] She has also appeared on STV music shows such as Thingummyjig and Hogmanay celebrations.

Sandeman is divorced from her husband, Angus, who was a doctor. They had two sons, Duncan and Iain. Her brother, David, was killed in a flying accident in 1975.[1]


Studio albums[edit]

Title Album details Peak chart positions
  • Released: 1981
  • Label: Hansa
12 19


Year Title Peak chart positions Certifications Album
1981 "Japanese Boy" 1 4 1 42 1 1 3 7 4 1 1 Aneka
"Little Lady" 50 7 14 6 10 18 14
1982 "Ooh Shooby Doo Doo Lang" 8 18 41
"I Was Free"
1983 "Heart to Beat" Non-album singles
1984 "Rose, Rose, I Love You"
"—" denotes items that did not chart or were not released in that territory.


  1. ^ a b c Global popstar turned tour guide Gran, Aneka relives her days of stardom: website. Accessed on January 11, 2014.
  2. ^ No. 1 UK Hit Singles of 1981
  3. ^ Chart Stats - Aneka - Little Lady Archived 17 September 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Aneka Biography and European Discography Archived 17 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ "Albums by Aneka". Rate Your Music. Archived from the original on 2012-07-14. Retrieved 2012-05-01.
  7. ^ "Mary wants a Gaelic hit number". The Glasgow Herald. 30 December 1981. p. 5. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
  8. ^
  9. ^ "BFI | Film & TV Database | MARY SANDEMAN AND ISLAY (1994)". 16 April 2009. Retrieved 2012-05-01.
  10. ^ a b "Sisältää hitin: Levyt ja esittäjät Suomen musiikkilistoilla vuodesta 1961" (in Finnish). Sisältää Hitin - Suomen listalevyt (Timo Pennanen). Retrieved 2016-07-14.
  11. ^ "Swedish Albums". Retrieved 2016-06-04.
  12. ^ "UK Singles". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2016-06-04.
  13. ^ "Austrian Singles". Retrieved 2016-06-04.
  14. ^ "Belgian Singles". Retrieved 2016-06-04.
  15. ^ "Canadian Singles". RPM Magazine. Retrieved 2016-06-04.
  16. ^ "Irish Singles". Archived from the original on 1 February 2010. Retrieved 2016-06-04.
  17. ^ "German Singles". Retrieved 2016-06-04.
  18. ^ "Netherlands Singles". Retrieved 2016-06-04.
  19. ^ "Norwegian Singles". Retrieved 2016-06-04.
  20. ^ "Swedish Singles". Retrieved 2016-06-04.
  21. ^ "Swiss Singles". Retrieved 2016-06-04.
  22. ^ "UK Certification". British Phonographic Industry. Archived from the original on 6 February 2013. Retrieved 2016-06-04.
  23. ^ "Canadian Certification". Music Canada. Retrieved 2016-06-05.
  24. ^ "German Certification". Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Archived from the original on 2 December 2013. Retrieved 2016-06-05.