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Lill-Babs (born Barbro Margareta Svensson on 9 March 1938) is a Swedish singer and actress.


Lill-Babs was born in Järvsö, Sweden, as the first daughter of Britta and Ragnar Svensson. At the age of fifteen, she sang on the radioshow Morgonkvisten as a "young talent." The Swedish band leader and talent scout Simon Brehm had heard the show and contacted her that very same evening and invited her to audition in his studio in Stockholm. The audition went well, and she moved to Stockholm to begin her career in show business.

In 1954, she recorded her first record "Min mammas boogie" under the name "Lill-Babs.", a combination of the Swedish word 'little' and the Anglosized nickname for Barbro/Barbara. Just as her fame was beginning to grow, the umarried Lill-Babs became pregnant - a potential public scandal in Sweden of the mid-1950s. She continued to work as long as she was able to hide her pregnancy, then went home to Järvsö to give birth to a girl, Monica.

After some time at home, she returned to focus on her career. However, Simon Brehm had by then found a new vocalist to take her place and no longer required her services. Lill-Babs received an offer to tour with Brehm's competing band leader Kettil Olsson. After the tour and a couple of concerts at jazz club Nalen in Stockholm, she received a call from Simon asking for her to come back to work for him. She accepted his offer and went on to perform many concerts at dance palace Bal Palais and other tours.

In 1958, she went on her first self-produced tour and was cast in the movie Fly mig en greve with comedian Carl-Gustaf Lindstedt. She made many recordings, such as the novelty song "Är Du Kär I Mig Ännu Klas-Göran?" and "En tuff brud i lyxförpackning", all of which became big sellers, Svensktoppen entries and schlager standards in Sweden. "Är Du Kär I Mig Ännu Klas-Göran" was composed by the then relatively unknown Stig Anderson. Anderson would go on to write several of Lill-Babs' hits in the 1960s and in the early 1970s he would gain international fame and success as the manager of ABBA.

In the 1960s, Barbro's own fan-club Splorr was created and became the largest in Sweden with 17,000 members. The number of members however became too cumbersome to handle and the costs growing forced the club to go into bankruptcy.

During this time Lill-Babs did much of her work in West Germany, where many of her records, television shows, and movies were produced. As a result of this she became a big star in Germany, considered as popular as TV-artist Caterina Valente. In 1961 she represented Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest with "April April" in Cannes and she would go on to participate several times in the national preselections for the contest both in Sweden and Norway.

One of the more unusual merits in Lill-Babs' career took place in early 1963 as she guested in Swedish TV show Drop In, broadcast live, and afterwards signed autographs for a starstruck and at the time up and coming British band from Liverpool making one of their first international TV appearances in the same show; the name of the band was The Beatles.

Lill-Babs' 1971 Svensktoppen hit "Välkommen Till Världen", originally composed as a contender for Melodifestivalen of that year, is of special significance in the history of ABBA since it was written and produced by Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson and it is also one of the earliest recordings to feature backing vocals by all four future members of the band.

In 1974, Lill-Babs played the lead in the Swedish cast of musical Annie Get Your Gun, directed by writer and TV-personality Åke Falck. The show was performed at the Scandinavium hockey arena in Gothenburg for a total of 12 performances - with more than one hundred thousand tickets sold. She received excellent reviews overall and was after twenty years in show business finally acknowledged for her talent as an allround entertainer, singing, acting and dancing. In the following three decades she would go on to play sold-out cabarets at venues like Berns Salonger and Hamburger Börs in Stockholm, often with material written especially for her by renowned Swedish writers such as poet Lars Forsell and singer and lyricist Barbro Hörberg.

Having three daughters - all with different fathers, and having married several times as well, Lill-Babs has also unwillingly been a permanent feature in the Swedish tabloid press for the past four decades.

At the age of 70 Lill-Babs is still going strong, often affectionately referred to as Sweden's "grand old lady" in show business and still frequently touring Sweden.

External links

Sources and references

  • Barbro Svensson & Anna Wahlgren: Lill-Babs - Hon Är Jag: Minnen Av Ögonblick, Bra Böcker 1996 ISBN 91-7133 184 0.
  • Carl Magnus Palm: Bright Lights - Dark Shadows, Omnibus Press UK 2001, ISBN 0-7119.8389.5
  • Carl Magnus Palm: ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions, Century 22 Limited UK, 1994. ISBN 0-907938-10-8

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