Alice Babs

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Alice Babs
Alice Babs-1940.jpg
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 1939-2014
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.

Early career[edit]

Alice Babs and daughter Titti Sjöblom in an advertisement for Toy chewing gum, 1960
Alice Babs with The Swe-Danes in 1961,
with Svend Asmussen to the left
and Ulrik Neumann to the right.

After making her breakthrough in Swing it magistern ('Swing It, Teacher!', 1940),[2] she appeared in more than a dozen Swedish-language films. Despite playing 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[edit]

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.[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]

From 1943 until his death, Babs was married to 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), the latter appearing with her mother in early-1960s advertising for Toy Chewing Gum (see inset). In her later years, Babs resided in Sweden,[6][7] where she was active in the Lutheran church.


Babs died of complications from Alzheimer's disease at age 90 on 11 February 2014 in Stockholm.[4][6][8][9][10]



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.

  • Vax Records CD 1003 Alice Babs & Nisse Linds Hot-trio, originally recorded: 1939–41
  • Naxos 8.120759 Swingflickan, originally recorded: 1939–44
  • Vax Records CD 1000 Early recordings 1939–1949
  • Klara skivan KLA 7802-2 Joddlarflickan (2 CDs), originally recorded: 1939–51
  • Phontastic PHONTCD 9302 Swing it! Alice Babs!, originally recorded: 1939–53
  • Sonora 548493-2 Swing it, Alice! (2 CDs), originally recorded: 1939–63
  • Sonora 529315-2 Ett glatt humör, originally recorded: 1940–42
  • Odeon 7C138-35971/2 Alice Babs, originally recorded: 1942–1947
  • Metronome 8573-84676-2 Guldkorn, originally recorded: 1951–58
  • Metronome 4509-93189-2 Metronomeåren, originally recorded: 1951–58
  • Metronome 5050467-1616-2-7 Alice Babs bästa (2 CDs), originally recorded: 1951–61
  • Bear Family BCD 15809-AH Mitsommernacht, originally recorded: 1953–59
  • Bear Family BCD 15814-AH Lollipop, originally recorded: 1953–59
  • EMI 7243-5-96148-2-3 Diamanter (2 CDs), originally recorded: 1958–60
  • EMI 7243-5-20153-2-0 Just you, just me, originally recorded: 1958–72
  • Pickwick 751146 Regntunga skyar, originally recorded: 1958–72
  • Metronome 4509-95438-2 Swe-Danes Scandinavian Shuffle, originally recorded: 1959
  • RCA 74321-12719-2 Alice and Wonderband, originally recorded: 1959
  • Swedish Society Discofil SWECD 401 Sjung med oss mamma (Alice Tegnér), originally recorded: 1963
  • Swedish Society Discofil SWECD 400 Alice Babs, originally recorded: 1964
  • Swedish Society Discofil SWECD 402 Scandinavian songs (Svend Asmussen) originally recorded: 1964
  • Prophone PCD 050 Yesterday, originally recorded: 1966–75
  • Vax Records VAXCD 1006 "Illusion" (with Jan Johansson and Georg Riedels orchestra) Originally recorded 1966
  • Vax Records CD 1008 "As time goes by" Alice Babs with Bengt Hallbergs trio and Arne Domnérus Big Band with Svend Asmussen. Originally recorded 1960–1969
  • EMI 7243 5398942 2 Den olydiga ballongen/Hej du måne, originally recorded: 1968–76
  • Prophone PCD 045 What a joy!, originally recorded: 1972–80
  • Bluebell ABCD 052 There's something about me, originally recorded: 1973–78
  • Prophone PCD 021 Serenading Duke Ellington, originally recorded: 1974–75
  • Swedish Society Discofil SCD 3003 Om sommaren sköna – Sjunger Alice Tegnér, originally recorded: 1974
  • Bluebell ABCD 005 Far away star, originally recorded: 1977
  • RCA Victor 74321-62363-2 Swingtime again, originally recorded: 1998
  • Sony SK 61797 A church blues for Alice, originally recorded: 1999
  • Four Leaf Clover Records FLCDVD 8001 Swingtime Again with Charlie Norman recorded 1999
  • Prophone PCD 062 Don't be blue, originally recorded: 2001
  • Vax Records Vi Minns Alice Babs released: 2014[4]


  1. ^ Cook, Richard (2005). Richard Cook's Jazz Encyclopedia. London: Penguin Books. p. 27. ISBN 0-141-00646-3. 
  2. ^ a b 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 - Retrieved 2015-04-06. 
  4. ^ a b c 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. ^ a b Keepnews, Peter (2014-02-14). "Alice Babs, Who Sang for Ellington, Dies at 90". New York Times. Retrieved 2015-04-06. 
  7. ^ "Swedish singer Alice Babs dies aged 90". 2014-02-11. Retrieved 2015-04-06. 
  8. ^ "Swedish singer Alice Babs dies aged 90", The Local (Sweden), 11 February 2014
  9. ^ Alice Babs död, Dagens Nyheter 11 February 2014 (Swedish)
  10. ^ "Alice Babs, Who Sang for Ellington, Dies at 90", The New York Times 15 February 2014

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Debut entry
Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest
Succeeded by
Brita Borg
with "Augustin"