Alice Babs (born Hildur Alice Nilson; 26 January 1924 – 11 February 2014) was a Swedish singer and actress. 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.
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.
In 1939 she sang at nightclubs like Berns or China and got a record contract at the age of 15 although her yodelling made her initially popular and the novelty "Swing It, Mr. Teacher" was her first hit, Babs even at the start had a highly appealing voice and a lightly swinging style.
After making her breakthrough in the film Swing it magistern ('Swing It, Teacher!', 1940), 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".
She mostly recorded in jazz and swing-oriented settings throughout the years of World War II and remained active throughout the 50’s and '60s in Europe, singing everything from jazz and pop to a bit of classical music.
She has performed with all the big names in Swedish music, people like Charlie Norman, Putte Wickman and Arne Domnérus. 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.
A long and productive period of collaboration with Duke Ellington began in 1963. 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. . Her important first set with Duke Ellington, Swing It!, does a fine job of summing up her first 15 years on records.
In 1963, her recording of "After You've Gone" (Fontana) reached No. 43 in the British charts.
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).
Daughter 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. At the end of Alice Babs' career, mother and daughter again toured together.
In 1972 Ms. Babs was the first non-opera singer to be named Sweden’s royal court singer. She later became a member of the Royal Academy of Music.Among other honours, her face now graces the arrivals hall at Arlanda airport.
By the late '70s, Alice Babs had become less active, but into the mid-'90s she occasionally performed on special occasions. 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.(Info edited from Wikipedia, All Music & IMDB)
Babs suffered from Alzheimer's in her final years, and she died at a nursing home on February 11, 2014 of complications from the disease. She was 90 years old.
Second Sacred Concert 1969 Duke Ellington
Alice Babs (vocal) Johnny Hodges (alto sax)