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|Barbro "Lill-Babs" Svensson|
|Birth name||Barbro Margareta Svensson|
|Also known as||Lill-Babs|
|Born||March 9, 1938|
Lill-Babs was born in Järvsö, Gävleborg County, as the first daughter of Britta and Ragnar Svensson. At age 15 she sang on the radio show Morgonkvisten as a "young talent." Swedish bandleader and talent scout Simon Brehm heard the show and contacted her that evening, inviting her to audition in his Stockholm studio. The audition went well and she moved to Stockholm to begin her showbusiness career.
In 1954, she recorded her first record "Min mammas boogie" under the name "Lill-Babs", a combination of the Swedish word 'little' and the Anglicized nickname for Barbro/Barbara. Just as her fame was beginning to grow, the unmarried Lill-Babs became pregnant - a potential public scandal in mid-1950s Sweden. She continued to work as long as she was able to hide her pregnancy, then went home to Järvsö to give birth to daughter Monica.
After some time at home she returned to focus on her career, but by then Simon Brehm had found a new vocalist to replace her. She received an offer to tour with Brehm's competing bandleader, Kettil Olsson. After the tour and a couple of concerts at jazz club Nalen in Stockholm, she received a call from Simon asking for her to return to work for him. She accepted his offer and went on to perform many concerts at dance palace Bal Palais and other tours.
In 1958 she went on her first self-produced tour and was cast in the movie Fly mig en greve with comedian Carl-Gustaf Lindstedt. She made many recordings, such as the novelty song "Är du kär i mej ännu Klas-Göran?", "Leva Livet" and "En tuff brud i lyxförpackning", all of which became big sellers, Svensktoppen entries and schlager standards in Sweden. "Är Du Kär I Mig Ännu Klas-Göran" was composed by the then relatively unknown Stig Anderson. Anderson would go on to write several of Lill-Babs' hits in the 1960s and in the early 1970s he would gain international fame and success as the manager of ABBA.
In the 1960s, Barbro's own fan-club Splorr was created and became the largest in Sweden with 17,000 members. The number of members soon became too cumbersome to handle and the growing costs forced the club to go into bankruptcy.
During this time Lill-Babs did much of her work in West Germany, where many of her records, television shows, and movies were produced. As a result of this she became a big star in Germany, considered as popular as TV-artist Caterina Valente. In 1961 she represented Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest with "April, April" in Cannes and she would go on to participate several times in the national preselections for the contest both in Sweden and Norway.
One of the more unusual events in Lill-Babs' career took place in October 1963 as she guested on Swedish TV show Drop In, broadcast live, and afterwards signed autographs for a starstruck and at the time up-and-coming British band from Liverpool making one of their first international TV appearances on the same show; the name of the band was The Beatles.
Lill-Babs' 1971 Svensktoppen hit "Välkommen Till Världen", originally composed as a contender for Melodifestivalen of that year, is of special significance in the history of ABBA since it was written and produced by Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson and it is also one of the earliest recordings to feature backing vocals by all four future members of the band.
In 1974, Lill-Babs played the lead in the Swedish cast of musical Annie Get Your Gun, directed by writer and TV-personality Åke Falck. The show was performed at the Scandinavium hockey arena in Gothenburg for a total of 12 performances - with more than 100,000 tickets sold. She received excellent reviews overall, and after 20 years in showbusiness her talent was finally acknowledged, and as an all-round entertainer: singing, dancing, and acting. In the following three decades she would go on to play sold-out cabarets at venues like Berns Salonger and Hamburger Börs in Stockholm, often with material written especially for her by renowned Swedish writers such as poet Lars Forssell and singer and lyricist Barbro Hörberg.
Having been married several times and having three daughters by three men, Lill-Babs has unwillingly been a permanent feature in the Swedish tabloid press for a number of decades.
As of 2014, aged 76, Lill-Babs still tours Sweden, often affectionately referred to as Sweden's "grand old lady" in show business. In 2011 she was featured prominently in the midsommar episode of Allt för Sverige, which took place in and around Järvsö. Allt för Sverige is a Swedish reality television program depicting Swedish-Americans rediscovering their roots in their homeland.
Sources and references
- Barbro Svensson & Anna Wahlgren: Lill-Babs - Hon Är Jag: Minnen Av Ögonblick, Bra Böcker 1996 ISBN 91-7133-184-0.
- Carl Magnus Palm: Bright Lights - Dark Shadows, Omnibus Press UK 2001, ISBN 0-7119-8389-5
- Carl Magnus Palm: ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions, Century 22 Limited UK, 1994. ISBN 0-907938-10-8
|Awards and achievements|
with "Alla andra får varann"
|Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest
with "Sol och vår"