Thursday, August 09, 2012
AccuRadio Song Of The Day-The Singing Nun
Album:Hard To Find 45's On CD Vol. 2: 1961-64
If you weren't around in 1963, you may find it hard to believe that Dominique topped the charts. And that the song was written and recorded by a real nun. But this was during the folk music boom right after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. A lot of softer songs were hits at that time. So when put in that kind of context, maybe it's not so strange. The Singing Nun was a real nun. She was born Jeanne-Paule Marie Deckers Oct. 17, 1933 in Brussels, Belgium. She was known as Sister Luc Gabriel at the Dominican Fichermont Convent in Waterloo, Belgium. She sang and performed her own songs and in 1959 the monastery allowed her to record. The recording was only supposed to be given as gifts. When the recording got into the hands of Philips Records, they wanted to take her on tour. The monastery allowed it and Philips called her Soeur Sourire (Sister Smile) in Europe. In North America she was called The Singing Nun. Dominique knocked Louie Louie by The Kingsmen off the top of the charts in 1963. She also appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show on film. Apparently she didn't like performing live. So the song was a huge hit. Things started to go south for Sister Luc Gabriel when MGM produced the 1966 film The Singing Nun starring Debbie Reynolds as a young nun who falls in love with Chad Everett. Sister Luc Gabriel denounced the film as fiction and her superiors were not pleased about the romance in the film. She recorded a second album and then left the convent in 1967 when she discovered that the convent got all the royaltes from her recordings. Deckers was critical of Catholic doctrines and became an advocate for contraception. Later she operated a school for autistic children but got into financial trouble when she owed back taxes from her music career. She told the government that because the convent kept her royalties, she wasn't liable for the back taxes. They didn't buy that. After attempting a comeback by recording a 1982 disco version of Dominique, Deckers and her partner Annie Pecher committed suicide by drug and alcohol overdose on Mar. 29, 1985. The Singing Nun was 51. You can get Dominique on this various artists comp from the oldies label Eric Records. A play The Tragic and Horrible Life of the Singing Nun was produced off Broadway in 1996. It was turned into a musical in 2006. And a Singing Nun biopic was released in Belgium in 2009. Here's a video of Dominique by The Singing Nun.