Alice Babs

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Alice Babs
Alice Babs-1940.jpg
Alice Babs, c. 1940
Background information
Birth nameHildur Alice Nilson
Born(1924-01-26)26 January 1924
Västervik, Sweden
Died11 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.

Eurovision Song Contest 1958 song contest

The Eurovision Song Contest 1958 was the third edition of the annual Eurovision Song Contest. It took place in Hilversum, Netherlands, following Corry Brokken's win at the 1957 contest in Frankfurt-am-Main, West Germany, with the song "Net als toen". This formed the convention that the winning country of the previous year's event would host the following year. The contest was held at the AVRO Studios on Wednesday 12 March 1958, and was hosted by Hannie Lips.

The titles Hovsångare for men and Hovsångerska for women are awarded by the Swedish monarch to a singer who, by their vocal art, has contributed to the international standing of Swedish singing. The formal title was introduced by King Gustav III of Sweden in 1773, with the first recipients being Elisabeth Olin and Carl Stenborg. The position as such, however, dates back to the 17th century, when Anne Chabanceau de La Barre and Joseph Chabanceau de La Barre were singers at the court of Queen Christina of Sweden.


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

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]

Duke Ellington American jazz musician, composer and band leader

Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington was an American composer, pianist, and leader of a jazz orchestra, which he led from 1923 until his death over a career spanning more than fifty years.

In the last decade of his life, Duke Ellington wrote three Sacred Concerts:

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

After Youve Gone (song) song

"After You've Gone" is a 1918 popular song composed by Turner Layton with lyrics by Henry Creamer. It was recorded by Marion Harris on July 22, 1918, and released by Victor Records. The chorus adheres to a standard ABAC pattern but is only 20 measures long. There are four 4-bar phrases, followed by a 4 measure tag. The song is harmonically active, with chord changes almost every measure. The opening four notes are identical to the opening notes of Peg o' My Heart (1912)—at the time songwriters often borrowed the first few notes of a hit melody.

Fontana Records record label; imprint of N.V. Philips Phonografische Industrie

Fontana Records is a record label which was started in the 1950s as a subsidiary of the Dutch Philips Records. The independent label distributor Fontana Distribution takes its name from the label.

In 1972 she contributed to the recording of Auntie, a Dutch song commemmorating the start of British Broadcasting Corporation's broadcasts 50 years before. The song however failed to chart in the United Kingdom itself.

Auntie is a song released by Philips Records in 1972 to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the BBC. It is named after the affectionate nickname for the corporation, and features artists from six countries. The singers are Hildegard Knef, Enrico Macias, Sandra & Andres, Alice Babs, Demis Roussos and Vicky Leandros. The composer is Dutch musician Hans van Hemert.


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]

Titti Sjöblom Swedish female jazz and schlager singer

Titti Sigrid Renée Eliasson Sjöblom is a Swedish pop singer. She is the daughter of singer Alice Babs and director Nils Ivar Sjöblom. She participated at Melodifestivalen 1974 with the song "Fröken Ur-sång", ending up in fourth place. Her first dinner shows and folk park tours occurred Charlie Norman and Lennie Norman during the mid-1970s.

Alice Babs and daughter Titti Sjoblom in an advertisement for Toy chewing gum, 1960 Alice Babs och Titti Sjoblom gor reklam for Toy tuggummi.jpg
Alice Babs and daughter Titti Sjöblom in an advertisement for Toy chewing gum, 1960

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. Sonora505.jpg
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.

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Lilla stjärna 1958 Alice Babs song

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Sov du lilla vide ung poem by Zachris Topelius

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Julbocken (song) 1913 song by Alice Tegnér

Julbocken, with the opening lines "En jul när mor var liten", is a Christmas song written by Alice Tegnér. The lyrics describe a time when the Julbocken was still a more popular Christmas gift-bringer in Sweden than the Jultomten or Santa Claus. The lyrics describe the goat giving presents, a doll for "Mother" when she was a child, who was frightened when the goat jumped; and for her brother, a drum and a trumpet. When the goat is old, he returns to "Mother", who now has children of her own.

Kring julgranen julsång av Alice Tegnér från 1899

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Tre pepparkaksgubbar 1913 song by Alice Tegnér

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  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 ‹See Tfd› (in Swedish)
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Debut entry
Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest
Succeeded by
Brita Borg
with "Augustin"