Alice Babs Biography

Alice Nilson, 26 January 1924, Kalmar, Sweden. Well-versed in popular music and in the folk songs of her native Sweden, Babs first attracted wider attention with an appearance at the 1949 Paris Jazz Fair. Switching back and forth between jazz and popular song, she worked for a few years with fellow Scandinavians Ulrik Neumann and Svend Asmussen. In 1963 she met Duke Ellington, with whom she made concert appearances and records. The same year, her record of ‘After You’ve Gone’ reached number 43 in the UK charts. Despite such successes, her pure soprano and crystal-clear diction inclined her towards classical music, which she studied in the 60s. However, she worked again with Ellington on one of his religious concerts, which took place in Spain. Now retired in Spain, Babs regularly attends the Ellington Conferences (begun in 1983), delighting delegates with her impromptu vocal interventions, her vibrant enthusiasm and her obvious love for Ellington’s music. That Ellington’s feelings were reciprocal is apparent from his remark: ‘Alice Babs is a composer’s dream, for with her he can forget all the limitations and just write his heart out.’

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.