Juliette Gréco: Doyenne of French singers dies at 93

Juliette Gréco

image copyrightPhilippe Bataillon\INA

A true icon of the French chanson, Juliette Gréco, has died aged 93 after a fabled career that spanned eight decades.

Born in 1927, Gréco was imprisoned by the Nazis during World War Two, but afterwards began performing in cellar clubs and cafes.

Dressed in black, she became a muse to philosophers and writers including Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus.

She only stopped performing aged 89 after a farewell tour.

Gréco was also a celebrated actor, working with some of cinema’s greats, such as Jean Cocteau and Ingrid Bergman, Orson Welles and Ava Gardner.

  • Obituary: Juliette Gréco

In France she achieved great success in the mid-1960s, playing the role of a schizophrenic in the spooky TV miniseries Belphégor.

She sang with France’s best balladeers Jacques Brel and Georges Brassens. Her haunting rendition of Sous le ciel de Paris (Under Paris Skies) is one of the classics of the French chanson.

Juliette Gréco

image copyrightEPA

But she was loved internationally too, from Germany to Japan and beyond. In 1967, she sang in front of 60,000 people in Berlin and in 2005 released an album of songs in German.

She was married three times but also had a long affair with jazz trumpeter Miles Davis.

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Unforgettable interpreter of song

What was it about Gréco that makes her death touch us so deeply, asked Le Monde. Her voice, elegance, power, and flying, spinning hands, it said.

Gréco was less a composer than a great interpreter of other people’s songs.

The French newspaper, Libération, said she spat and caressed “the words like a Fauvist painter crushes colours onto his canvas with his knife”.

Si Tu T’imagines, Parlez-moi d`Amour and Je Suis Comme Je Suis were the big hits of the early years. Later, there were collaborations with Serge Gainsbourg too.

Read more on the extraordinary life of Juliette Gréco

Related Topics

  • France

  • Paris

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