Friday, October 12, 2012

Sœur Sourire
(The Singing Nun)
"Avec toi"

In the early 1960s, Jeannine Deckers, aka Sœur Sourire aka The Singing Nun aka Luc Dominique aka King Diamond, lived and worshipped at the Fichermont Convent in Waterloo, Belgium. Jeannine liked to write songs and play them for the other sisters on her acoustic guitar, so the convent decided to let her record an album's worth of her compositions. As unlikely as it seems, the song Dominique became a huge hit single on both sides of the Atlantic.

After her initial success, however, things went downhill. Her second album, Her Joy, Her Songs, did not match the first in terms of popularity, and, in 1965, the convent announced that her singing career was over. In 1967, however, she left Fichermont and reemerged as Luc Dominique, under which she recorded at least two albums, I Am Not a Star. and Dominican. Her final release, as far as I know, was a 1982 disco version of Dominique.

At some point, the Belgian government decided she owed an extraordinary sum in back taxes, for the money made from her early, hit records. She had given the majority of her earnings to the convent, but did not have receipts. In addition, the convent apparently did nothing to exonerate her. Perhaps because she had recorded a song in praise of birth control, La pilule d'or (The Golden Pill), or perhaps because she was living openly as a lesbian with her long-time partner Annie Pécher? I honestly do not know. Despondent over their debts, Jeannine and Annie committed suicide together in their apartment on March 19, 1985.

Once again, I've cheated a bit with this entry. That's my copy of her second LP in the photo above, but it's in lousy condition, so I pulled my favorite song from it from a wonderful, two-CD compilation I have called Best of Sœur Sourire. It has all the tracks from The Singing Nun, Her Joy, Her Songs, and I Am Not a Star., plus the disco version of Dominique and a bunch of tracks from who-knows-where. Unfortunately, the liner notes are scant (and straightwashed), with no indication of the sources for any of the songs.

The original Dominique

Let's disco!

3 biased opinions:

BoboMa said...

Nice choice of song for such a sad story.

James Von Sutekh said...

While that may not be my personal taste in music, that story is unarguably one of the most interesting blog posts I've read in quite some time.

Biki Honko said...

What a sad, and all to common story coming from the catholic church. I hope that those who profited from her music, and denied her request for receipts is thus, when they "wake up" on the other side, its not the pearly gates they see, but the fiery ones instead.

Nice song, odd video. It sounds one way, looks another, and comes off being rather off balanced, well to me anyway.