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Remembering Juliette Gréco

Miles Davis and Juliette Gréco in the 1950s. They had a passionate love affair but never married because "you'd be seen as a negro's whore in America" as Miles told her.

A major figure in French music, and renowned actress and rebel icon, Juliette Gréco passed away this Wednesday, September 23, 2020 at the age of 93.

"The black muse of Saint-Germain-des-Prés" was loved for her charisma, her voice, and her charm. At a young age, she met Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Jean Tardiez, Boris Vian, Jacques Prévert among others, in the pubs of Saint-Germain (Paris) and earned a place among the existentialists of the country's post-War period. 

Juliette Gréco was a talented woman in many ways. In addition to her lustrous singing career, she had an intense acting career, appearing in almost 30 films throughout her life, mostly in the 1950s and ’60s. We saw her in the American movies alongside Ava Gardner in The Sun also rises by Hervé King (1957), in The Roots of Heaven by John Huston (1958), in Crack in the Mirror by Richard Fleischer (1960) with the actor Orson Welles;  she is also remembered for the 1965 French mini-series, “Belphegor, Phantom of the Louvre” and starred in Jean Cocteau's Orpheus. In the same period, she performed French songs written by Georges Brassens, Serge Gainsbourg, Jacques Brel, Guy Béart, and more.  She was also romantically involved with great American stars such as the legendary jazz trumpeter Miles Davis, the jazz composer Quincy Jones, and the famous Hollywood producer and director, Darryl Zanuck

From the 1980's onwards, Juliette Gréco focused mainly on her singing career. In 1993, she released an album with songs written by Julien Clerc, Gérard Jouannest, and Caetano Veloso. For the past 20 years, she worked with some of the most prominent names in the new generation of French music. In 2003, she released the album Aimez-vous les uns les uns... ou bien disparaissez composed notably by Benjamin Biolay and Miossec among others; in 2009 she recorded the album Je me souviens de tout in New York with young performers such as Olivia Ruiz, Adrienne Pauly, Abd al Malik and Orly Chap. In 2013, she paid tribute to Jacques Brel with an album dedicated to him. In 2015 she began a tour at 88 years old under the name "Merci" ("Thank you"). Unfortunately, this tour was her last one, that of a woman whose body was tired but whose mind was always awake.

Discover some of her iconic songs:

 

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