Juliette Gréco, Chanson Française Icon, Dead at 93

Music

The French singer, actress, and cultural icon Juliette Gréco has died. She was 93. “Juliette Gréco died this Wednesday surrounded by her family in the house she loved so much,” her family said in a statement to the Associated Press. “Her life was one like no other.”

Gréco was born in Montpellier, France, in 1927 and performed chanson française, a French lyric-driven genre of popular music. She rose to prominence in post–World War II Paris when she released her first single, “Je Suis Comme Je Suis,” in 1951 and put out her debut, Juliette Gréco — Chante Ses Derniers Succès, the following year. Gréco’s music career spanned seven decades, including famous hits such as “Soul le ciel de Paris” and “Parlez-moi d’amour.”

She met Miles Davis in 1949 when he performed in Paris, and went on to maintain a lifelong relationship with the trumpeter. “We saw each other regularly until his death,” Gréco told The Guardian in 1991. She was married to French actors Philippe Lemaire and Michel Piccoli, as well as French pianist Gérard Jouannest.

Gréco appeared in numerous films throughout the ’50s and ’60s, including Jean Cocteau’s Orphée and the 1957 adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. She was known for her close relationships with other French musicians and philosophers of the era such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Serge Gainsbourg, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, and others.

Gréco continued to record and tour into her eighties. She held a farewell tour in 2015—a year before she suffered a stroke which ended her singing career. In 2016, she was awarded France’s Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters award for her significant contributions to the arts. Gréco’s final album, Gréco Chante Brel, was released in 2014.

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