Born: January 26, 1924 - Kalmar, Kalmar län, Sweden
Died: February 11, 2014 - Stockholm, Sweden
The Swedish soprano singer and actress, Alice Babs (born: Hildur Alice Nilsson), was born in Kalmar,. Her parents sang and played in amateur theatre. Growing up, she sang with her mother. Her father took her to Stockholm when she was 13 and got an offer to sing at a nightclub but had to reject the offer. But on the train back home she met a voice coach who promised to give her singing lessons. The lessons couldn't destroy her natural talent and she got more and more attention and in 1939 she sang at nightclubs like Berns or China and got a record contract.
Alice Babs has performed with all the big names in Swedish music, people like Charlie Norman, Putte Wickman and Arne Domnérus. While she has worked in a wide number of genres - e.g. Swedish folklore, Elizabethan songs and opera - she is best known internationally as a jazz singer. Making her breakthrough in Swing it magistern (Swing It, Teacher!) (1940), she appeared in more than a dozen Swedish language-films. Despite playing the well-behaved, good-hearted, cheerful girl, the youth culture forming with Alice Babs as its icon caused outrage among members of the older generation. A vicar called the Alice Babs cult the "foot and mouth disease to cultural life".
In 1958, Alice Babs was the first artist to represent Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest, finishing in 4th place with the song Lilla stjärna (Little Star). The same year, she formed Swe-Danes with Ulrik Neumann and Svend Asmussen. The group would later tour the USA together, before dissolving in 1965. A long and productive period of collaboration with Duke Ellington started in 1963. Among other works, Alice Babs performed his second and third Sacred Concerts that were originally written for her. Her voice had a range of more than three octaves; Duke Ellington said that when she did not sing the parts that he wrote for her, he had to use three different singers.
Alice Babs currently resides in Sweden. After having been retired for 18 years she released a new album in 1998.