Jacques BREL

Family tree of Jacques BREL

Singer & Musician

BelgianBorn Jacques Romain Georges BREL

Belgian singer-songwriter

Born on April 8, 1929 in Schaerbeek, Bruxelles, Belgium , Belgium

Died on October 9, 1978 in Bobigny, France

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Brel was born in Schaarbeek, Belgium, a district of Brussels, but lived half of his life in Paris. He died in Bobigny in the suburbs of Paris, of lung cancer, and is buried in the Marquesas Islands.



Although his family spoke French, they were of Flemish descent, with some of the family originating from Zandvoorde, near Ypres. Brel's father was co-owner of a cardboard factory and Brel started his working life there, apparently destined to follow his father's footsteps. However, he had no interest in it and showed an interest in culture instead, joining the Catholic-humanist youth organisation Franche Cordée, where he sang and acted. At Franche Cordée he met Thérèse Michielsen ('Miche'). They married in 1950.

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In the early 1950s Brel achieved minor success in Belgium singing his own songs. A 78rpm record (La foire/Il y a) was released as a result. From 1954 Brel pursued an international singing career. He quit his job and moved to Paris, where he stayed at the Hotel Stevens and gave guitar lessons to artist-dancer Francesco Frediani to pay his rent. Jean Villard Gilles recognized his talent and hired him immediately for his cabaret "Chez Gilles". (Later, Gilles' successful song / poem La Venoge inspired Brel to write Le Plat Pays. Frediani witnessed his first show at the Olympia as an "ouverture de rideau" act (i.e., while the public was entering and being seated). Brel had to change behind the bar. Bruno Coquatrix, the owner, invited him to come back. He carried on writing music and singing in the city's cabarets and music-halls, where on stage he delivered his songs with great energy. In January 1955 he supported in the Ancienne Belgique in Brussels the performances of the Belgian pop and variety pioneer Bobbejaan Schoepen. After some success his wife and daughters joined him from Belgium. By 1956 he was touring Europe and he recorded the song Quand on n'a que l'amour that brought him his first major recognition. He appeared in a show with Maurice Chevalier and Michel Legrand.



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Geographical origins

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