Barbara Barbara
Barbara Barbara
Monique Andrée Serf, known as Barbara (Barbara Brodi in her debut), was a popular French female singer. She took her stage name from her Russian grandmother, Varvara Brodsky. She called herself 'the black eagle'-her song L'Aigle noir sold a million copies in twelve hours- and she always wore black. Norman Lebrecht: "Barbara is all about the unsaid; she's a Freudian enigma at the heart of France."
Biography
Barbara's personal information overview.
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    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 1997
    Age 66
    Died on November 24, 1997.
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  • 1996
    Age 65
    One of the few English-speaking artists to cover her work is Marc Almond, whose version of "Amours Incestueuses" ("Incestuous Loves") was released on his 1996 album "Absinthe".
    More Details Hide Details The Anglo-French biographer David Bret, a close friend of Barbara, wrote at her behest "Les Hommes Bafoués", a song about AIDS prejudice. Bret also adapted three of her songs, "Ma Plus Belle Histoire D'Amour", "La Solitude", and "Précy Jardin" into English for Barbara. These were taped in 1992, but so far have never been released. Well-known contemporary artists such as New York based Martha Wainwright, Spanish singer-songwriter Conchita Mendivil (who both recently reprised "Dis, Quand Reviendras-tu?", and Regina Spektor (with "Après Moi"), and London-based singer-songwriter Ana Silvera have reprised songs sung by Barbara. Marc Almond also released a version of Barbara's "Amours incestueuses" in 1993.
    However, she recorded another successful album in 1996—which sold over a million copies in twelve hours—before she died of respiratory problems in Neuilly-sur-Seine (a suburb of Paris), on November 24, 1997.
    More Details Hide Details She was interred in the family grave at the Cimetière de Bagneux in southwest Paris.
  • FIFTIES
  • 1988
    Age 57
    In 1988 the government of France awarded her the Legion of Honour.
    More Details Hide Details Health problems impeded her performing and she began to devote time to the writing of her memoirs.
  • 1986
    Age 55
    In 1986 she went to New York City to perform on piano at the Metropolitan Opera with Mikhail Baryshnikov in a song and dance ballet presentation.
    More Details Hide Details She co-wrote the music for the stage play Lily Passion with Luc Plamondon, in which she co-starred with Depardieu. It told the story of a killer who murders someone each time he hears her sing. In the latter part of the 1980s she became active in the fight against AIDS. She recorded SID'Amour à mort and gave out condoms at performances.
  • 1981
    Age 50
    Through the 1980s, she continued to tour and to write songs; her album Seule was one of France's top grossing releases of 1981.
    More Details Hide Details The next year she was awarded the Grand Prix du Disque in recognition of her contribution to French culture. She developed a close working relationship with rising film star Gérard Depardieu and his wife Élisabeth, collaborating on songs for film and records.
  • FORTIES
  • 1975
    Age 44
    Her final film role came in 1975 in Je suis né à Venise by choreographer Maurice Béjart.
    More Details Hide Details Barbara's career remained active in the 1970s, with appearances on television variety shows with stars such as Johnny Hallyday and a tour of Japan, Canada, Belgium, Israel, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
  • 1971
    Age 40
    In 1971 she co-starred with Jacques Brel in a film he directed titled Franz.
    More Details Hide Details Two years later she starred in L'Oiseau rare directed by Jean-Claude Brialy.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1970
    Age 39
    She announced that she would limit her concert singing, and in 1970 she made her acting début in the stage play Madame that proved to be a commercial flop.
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  • 1969
    Age 38
    In 1969, she wrote the theme song "Moi, je me balance" for the film "La fiancée du pirate".
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  • 1965
    Age 34
    In 1965, she released the album Barbara chante Barbara, which became a critical and financial success, winning the Grand Prix du Disque of the Charles Cros Academy.
    More Details Hide Details At the award ceremony, Barbara tore her award into several pieces, giving a piece to each of her technicians as a sign of her gratitude.
  • 1964
    Age 33
    She returned to Bobino in 1964 for several sold-out performances.
    More Details Hide Details She performed at the Paris Olympia and other important venues in France, becoming one of her country's most beloved stars.
    From that point on, her career blossomed and she signed a major recording contract in 1964 with Philips Records.
    More Details Hide Details Influenced originally by songwriters Mireille and Pierre MacOrlan, she developed her own style and the writing of her own songs transformed her image into that of a unique singer-songwriter. In the 1960s, she wrote her landmark song, "Ma plus belle histoire d'amour c'est vous" ("My Most Beautiful Love Story Is You"), and others for which she remains famous such as "L'aigle noir", "Nantes", "La solitude", "Göttingen" and "Une petite cantate." These five songs plus "Dis, quand reviendras-tu?" were translated into German by Belgian-German singer-songwriter Didier Caesar. The song "Göttingen" (named after the German city of Göttingen) is said to have contributed more to post-war German–French reconciliation than any speech by a politician. On the 40th anniversary of the Elysée agreement, ex-chancellor Gerhard Schröder quoted from the song in his official speech in the Château de Versailles.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1957
    Age 26
    In 1957, she went back to Brussels to record her first single, but it was not until 1961 that she got a real break when she sang at the Bobino Music-Hall in Montparnasse.
    More Details Hide Details Dressed in a long black robe, she gave a haunting performance, but the Parisian critics said she lacked naturalness and was stiff and formal in her presentation. She continued to perform at small clubs, and two years later at the Théâtre des Capucines she succeeded with the audience and critics alike, singing new material she had written herself.
  • 1953
    Age 22
    In October 1953 she married Claude John Luc Sluys, a Belgian law student, but they separated in 1956.
    More Details Hide Details She wrote many very personal songs, "Nantes" about her father, "Une petite cantate" dedicated to her friend Liliane Bénelli, born Gnansia, who died in a car accident in 1965. Later in life, she wrote a song to her public "Ma plus belle histoire d'amour" and another about her musicians "Mes hommes". Barbara's musical legacy is revealed in the writing of a number of singers, French-speaking and otherwise. A style referred to by the recently coined buzzword 'Nouvelle Chanson', or 'New Chanson', artists such as Keren Ann, Benjamin Biolay, Coralie Clement, Emilie Simon, Daphné, Vincent Delerm and Tancrède are often cited as exponents of the updated style.
  • TEENAGE
  • 1950
    Age 19
    A tall person, Barbara dressed in black as she sang melancholy songs of lost love. From 1950 to 1952, after her father's desertion of her family, she lived in Brussels, where she became part of an active artistic community.
    More Details Hide Details Her painter and writer friends took over an old house, converting it into workshops and a concert hall with a piano where she performed the songs of Édith Piaf, Juliette Gréco and Germaine Montéro. However, her career evolved slowly and she struggled constantly to eke out a living. Returning to Paris, she met Jacques Brel and became a lifelong friend, singing many of his songs. Later she met Georges Brassens, whose songs she began to use in her act and to record on her first album. In the 1950s, she sang at some of the smaller clubs and began building a fan base, particularly with the young students from the Latin Quarter.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1930
    Born
    Born on June 9, 1930.
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