Alice Babs

Last updated
Alice Babs
Alice Babs, c. 1940
Background information
Birth name Hildur Alice Nilson
Born(1924-01-26)26 January 1924
Västervik, Sweden
Died 11 February 2014(2014-02-11) (aged 90)
Stockholm, Sweden
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Singer
Years active 1939-2004
Associated acts Nils Lindberg
Duke Ellington
Bengt Hallberg
Charlie Norman

Alice Babs (born Hildur Alice Nilson; 26 January 1924 – 11 February 2014) was a Swedish singer and actress. [1] She worked in a wide number of genres – Swedish folklore, Elizabethan songs and opera. While she was best known internationally as a jazz singer, Babs also competed as Sweden's first annual competition entrant in the Eurovision Song Contest 1958. In 1972 she was named Sweden’s Royal Court Singer, the first non-opera singer as such.


Early career

After making her breakthrough in the film Swing it magistern ('Swing It, Teacher!', 1940), [2] she appeared in more than a dozen Swedish-language films. Despite being cast as the well-behaved, good-hearted, cheerful girl, the youth culture forming with Babs as its icon caused outrage among members of the older generation. A vicar called the Babs cult the "foot and mouth disease of cultural life". [3]

Later life and career

Alice Babs with The Swe-Danes in 1961,
with Svend Asmussen to the left
and Ulrik Neumann to the right.

In 1958, she 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 guitarist Ulrik Neumann and violinist Svend Asmussen. The group would later tour the United States together, before dissolving in 1965.[ citation needed ]

A long and productive period of collaboration with Duke Ellington began in 1963. [2] Among other works, Babs participated in performances of Ellington's second and third Sacred Concerts which he had written originally for her. Her voice had a range of more than three octaves; Ellington said that when she was not available to sing the parts that he had written for her, he had to use three different singers. [4]

In 1963, her recording of "After You've Gone" (Fontana) reached No. 43 in the British charts. [5]


In 1943 Babs married Nils Ivar Sjöblom (1919–2011). Their three children are Lilleba Sjöblom Lagerbäck (born 1945), Lars-Ivar (Lasse) Sjöblom (born 1948), and Titti Sjöblom (born 1949). [6] [7]

Alice Babs and daughter Titti Sjöblom in an advertisement for Toy chewing gum, 1960

Titti Sjöblom appeared with her mother in recordings and radio shows from the mid-1950s, and also on an early-1960s advertising for Toy Chewing Gum (see inset). At the end of Babs' career, mother and daughter again toured together.[ citation needed ]

Between 1973–2004 Babs and her husband resided in Costa del Sol (in Spain), while still working in Sweden and internationally. In their later years, they returned to Sweden.


Babs died of complications from Alzheimer's disease at age 90 on 11 February 2014 in Stockholm. [4] [6] [7] [8]



Recording of Alice Babs produced by the Swedish record label Sonora.

Alice Babs' discography includes more than 800 recordings since her debut with Joddlarflickan in 1939. The following is a list of her recordings available on CD, listed chronologically from when they were originally recorded.


  1. Cook, Richard (2005). Richard Cook's Jazz Encyclopedia. London: Penguin Books. p. 27. ISBN   0-141-00646-3.
  2. 1 2 Yanow, Scott. "Alice Babs: Biography". AllMusic . Retrieved 4 June 2011.
  3. Reney, Tom (2014-04-14). "Alice Babs: The Rare Delight Of You". Biography. New England Public Radio - Archived from the original on 2015-10-22. Retrieved 2015-04-06.
  4. 1 2 3 Mosey, Chris (2014-09-25). "Alice Babs: Vi Minns Alice Babs (2014)". Musical reviews. All About Jazz . Retrieved 2015-04-06.
  5. Chris Davies. British & American Hit Singles, Batsford.
  6. 1 2 Keepnews, Peter (2014-02-14). "Alice Babs, Who Sang for Ellington, Dies at 90". The New York Times . Retrieved 2015-04-06.
  7. 1 2 "Swedish singer Alice Babs dies aged 90". 2014-02-11. Archived from the original on 2015-04-19. Retrieved 2015-04-06.
  8. Alice Babs död, Dagens Nyheter 11 February 2014 (in Swedish)
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Debut entry
Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest
Succeeded by
Brita Borg
with "Augustin"