Sunday, December 5, 2010

Out Spotlight

Today's Out Spotlight lived a life of with both a higher calling and a number one hit. Today's Out Spotlight is Jeanne-Paule Marie Deckers, who is also known as Luc Dominique, or Soeur Sourire (Sister Smile), or Sister Adele, with many remembering her just as The Singing Nun.

Jeanne-Paule Marie Deckers, was born on October 17, 1933 in Brussels, Belgium. The daughter of a baker, she grew up in a loveless family. Grown, she left home to pursue studying art in Paris. She entered the Dominican Fichermont convent in Waterloo, Belgium in 1959 at the age of 25 after a breakdown caused by a broken engagement. When joining the convent, she said for the first time she felt part of a family. She took the name Sister Luc Gabriel.

Having written her own songs from an early age, she was allowed to keep her guitar and soon was entertaining the locals with fellow musical nuns. She wrote, sang and performed her own songs, which were were so well received by the order and at retreats that the monastery decided to let her record an album, which visitors and retreatists would be able to purchase.

The album was recorded in Brussels at Philips recording studios in 1963. The single "Dominique" became an international hit. In the wake of the John F. Kennedy assassination many radio stations in the U.S. played it and other softer music. Overnight at the age of 30, she became an international celebrity with the stage name of Sœur Sourire (Sister Smile).

Singing, and giving concerts based on her successful single, she found herself appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show on January 5, 1964. The Sullivan Show broadcast from Fichermont convent was the first of its kind, introducing the public to the elusive world of cloistered nuns. The world only knew the smiling nun in the white habit who sweetly strummed her guitar, as Sister Adele. Her real name and face were not revealed to the public.

"Dominique" is the only Belgian song that has ever been a number one hit single in the United States for four consecutive weeks. The song beat The Beatles and Elvis, garnered a Grammy award and has been reinterpreted over 100 times.

In 1966, a movie called The Singing Nun was made about her, starring Debbie Reynolds ithe title role. She rejected the film as "fiction". Her sophomore album, "Her Joys, Her Songs," did not get much attention and quickly faded almost as soon as it was released. Most of her earnings from her recording career were in fact taken by Philips, her producer, and the rest would go to the convent.

Like many new celebrities she found the exposure hard to bear, particularly after she appeared on US television. “I was afraid I would have a breakdown,” she wrote. “I could not stand being pestered and importuned by handsome men. I received bouquets from admirers and some of the notes they sent were too explicit for a girl who lived in a convent.” She also received an award from a US music magazine and was seen throwing her hands up in horror. “They might as well have awarded me a bomb,” she later said.

She yearned for the seclusion of her convent but the cloister she returned to was not the same as the one she had left coming back to jealousy and backbiting over her success. Meanwhile her exposure to the outside world had changed her more than she realized and she found it hard to adjust back to the restrictions of cloistered religious life.

She became increasingly critical of Catholic doctrines and eventually became a public advocate for contraception. She also agreed with John Lennon's statements about Jesus in 1966.

She enrolled for a course at university, where she wore lipstick and was even spotted smoking. More dramatically, she fell in love with a novice nun she met there: French-born Anna Pécher, who was 11 years her junior.

Scandalous to the convent, Deckers left the convent in 1967, so they could live together. Despite the outrage they had caused to strict Catholic morality the two lovers remained deeply religious, building an altar in their flat and taking communion together.

She then continued her musical career under the name Luc Dominique. She could not keep her initial name "Sœur Sourire", as Philips owned the rights. She released an album called "I Am Not a Star in Heaven." She recorded a song entitled "Glory Be to God for the Golden Pill" — a paean to artificial birth control under the name Luc Dominique. It was a commercial failure.

Her repertoire consisted of religious songs and songs for children. Despite her renewed musical emphasis, she gradually faded into obscurity, possibly because of her own disdain for fame. She struggle and was never able to duplicate the success of her one hit wonder.

In the late 1970s, the Belgian government claimed that she owed approximately $63,000 in back taxes. She countered that the royalties from her recording were given to the convent and therefore she was not liable for payment of any personal income taxes. But without any receipts to prove her donations to the convent and her religious order, it turned into heavy financial problems.

Her musical career over, she opened a school for autistic children in Belgium with her partner Pécher. She continued to play music for children and small groups as well.

In 1982, she tried, once again as Soeur Sourire, to score a hit with a disco version of "Dominique", but this last attempt to resume her singing career failed. She struggled with the fame she had experience but never looked for, and the life she found herself living after fame, the growing financial pressure and the resolution of her faith vs her sexuality. She soon was in a slide of depression being fueled with alcohol and barbiturates.

Citing their financial difficulties in a note, she and Pécher committed suicide by an overdose of barbiturates and alcohol on March 29, 1985. She was 51.

In 1996, The Tragic and Horrible Life of the Singing Nun premiered Off-Broadway at The Grove Street Playhouse. The play, which was written and directed by Blair Fell, was loosely based on the events in Deckers' life. It was called by the critics as tasteless in it's mockery of her life. The Catholic League spoke out publicly against the production.

In 2009, Sœur Sourire, a Franco-Belgian biopic starring Cécile de France as Deckers, was released in cinemas. De France described Deckers as a rebel trouble maker and a “punk before her time” who was also a fragile egotist full of “repressed aggression and savage brutality”.





Happy Hanukkah!

26 comments:

Grapevine said...

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/GreenSpot?action=comments

prairiegirl said...

Wow, what a tragic story. It's interesting how she said she didn't look for or like the attention and fame, yet she continued to keep reviving her singing career. The actions seem to belie what was said.

I had to google John Lennon's statements re: Jesus and thank goodness I saw the real quote and not what was interpreted and rephrased from it. Poor guy. He gave an interview later and said he regretted what he had said, that it was blown out of proportion and grew like a sponge into something he had not even come close to saying or intending.

Thank goodness.

poll said...

Ryan vs Jake:Who'd You Rather? TMZ

the real m said...

Fascinating and tragic. That song was huge when I was still a child and I never knew what became of her.

Slow day around the web. Looks like it is very warm in Australia. I could go for a bit of that right now, though its not too bad here today. Good day to rake up some leaves.

mtv said...

Taylor Swift And Jake Gyllenhaal: Weird Couple Or Weirdest Couple?

The real issue at work here might be that we think Jake Gyllenhaal dating anyone is sort of gross. There's something about his smile that veers between the two terrible poles of smug and smarmy. Plus, he's indisputably the lesser Gyllenhaal.

Lastly, the thing that makes this couple so very bizarre is that they're hanging out in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, which, unless you're 35 and have a baby, you shouldn't do at all.

Clutch

Kinda Creepy said...

Interesting part of that article, and I agree with the writer, what does it mean? But it sounds creepy as hell.


Taylor Swift was born in 1989, Ava Phillipe, daughter of Reese Witherspoon who he "dated" for 2+ years, was born in 1999.

Um, eww?

austin on tv said...

BellucciPR #OneTreeHill's @SophiaBush and @AUS10NICHOLS will be live on PIX11 Morning News on Monday 12/6 at 8:45 am! pix11.com #OTH #CW #WPIX
about 1 hour ago via web

pics said...

Jake looks good in these with Anne. IHJ

Special K said...

I have seen in several places that Jake hosted the Blue Valentine screening.

This article in Hitfix, points out what Jake being an Academy member did to support Michelle's film.

Jake Gyllenhaal was always a longshot candidate for awards kudos this year for his role in Ed Zwick's "Love and Other Drugs," but disappointing box office and so-so reviews have put an end to that potential run. So while his "Drugs" co-star Anne Hathaway prepares to host the Oscars he's spreading some love to another "Brokeback Mountain" alum, Michelle Williams.

The Los Angeles native hosted a screening of the acclaimed drama last night for Williams and her co-star Ryan Gosling and director Derek Cianfrance. These events happen often, but rarely get public attention. With the Weinstein Company putting pressure on the MPAA to drop its NC-17 rating, its clear this release of a high profile Academy member endorsing "Valentine" was intended to make yet another point to the movie ratings org.


Hitfix

destiny said...

I can't hear about the singing nun without thinking of a Kiki and Herb bit where Kiki talks about her and calls her a "show biz martyr" and then sings a very silly bit of the song.

One of the stories I saw about the BV screening said it was put on by CAA, so the impression I had is that Jake was acting as host on CAA's behalf.

Still nice to see him doing something like that, he doesn't do enough industry events imo.

Special K said...

Jake and Anne had their photocall in Sydney. And Jake is looking mighty mighty.

Jake and Anne

Even doing the Popeye, he looks good

Here's all rest of the photocall. Enjoy!
Jake Photocall Sydney

the real m said...

He looks good in most of those pictures but also somewhat indifferent. Now that the film is getting a so-so response it must be hard to keep up the enthusiasm for promo.

ROMA said...

Maybe someone else contributed this but The New Yorker Magazine says in the December 6th issue that Anne and Jake's chemistry is in the same category with Hepburn and Tracy, Gable and Crawford. This is high praise. Every review is careful to point out their chemistry is indelible and the best reason to see the film. The review also says the film "has many weak spots". Perhaps there will be a third time onscreen and that will be another charm as "Brokeback" was. In the hands of a skilled director and with a great script there is no limit to what could happen. LAOD is akin to watching two champion race horses break a leg. The material and a rather pedestrian director let them down. The loyalty they show Zwick is incredible.

ROMA said...

Special, great essay today. What a story.

Jersey Tom said...

Just saw old Reese on Good Morning America. Darn I miss her:-). Paul Rudd is a cutie. Jake went to that BV screening because he is lookling for work. I guess that is smart but he didn't do it out of the kindness of his heart.

destiny said...

Thanks Grapevine for the link; seeing the comments on a site like that just shows how far-flung the disgust and disbelief is for Swyll.

prairiegirl said...

Eloquently said, Roma. Perhaps that could be someday.

You know, I'd almost like to see Jake be able to do one thing, though, without there being some former cast member or link to Brokeback.

And don't get me wrong. I love that movie as much as anybody else.


But to have every single thing he does have to go back to that movie is ridiculous, I think. Yes, it was a classic. But Leonardo has moved on from Titanic. George Clooney does not revolve everything back to Crash. Every time you see Julia Roberts, Pretty Woman is not always brought up. She tried to hook back up with Richard Gere but it was just so-so.

Sometimes, the statue of David just cannot be reduplicated. But you gaze at it and you love & appreciate it for what it was and always will be. Nothing will ever touch it.

What Adam Latrine said that day for the Advocate and what Jake insinuated about LAOD "fixing" what Brokeback had done - all that did was bring Brokeback back up!!

They have only themselves to blame if no one seems able to let go of the movie. Stop stinkin' bringing it up.

Is Hollywood that small? If only Jake could have a hit movie that would put BBM up on the wall of the Hollywood Classic Museum and let it be retired as far as his career is concerned. Something totally different, a hit with somebody new.

It's too bad that PoP wasn't a success. I just don't think that kind of movie was ever going to be successful in America. But he tried and the whole thing is just too bad.

**sigh**. I don't know what the solution is. I'm an admin, for crying out loud and I know nothing about movies but I wish I could help somehow. I can't stand to see him being spoken about in Comments on the web like he is right now. It's horrible.

prairiegirl said...

I don't understand how Jake's people cannot see the negativity towards Jake/Slick. You cannot force feed something no matter how much you want it to happen. Cut your losses and get out.

prairiegirl said...

And actually, it further proves how Old Guard Jake's people are.

This is 2010. This is the age of internet, blogging, and yes, (**sigh** lol) Facebook and Twitter. It's all here to stay.

This would be why record stores have all but gone the way of dinosaurs. Why Blockbuster is barely keeping its head above water and will probably eventually go under. Kindles and Ipads are why stores like Borders and Barnes & Noble are now struggling. Why newspapers and magazines are struggling like crazy.

People are constantly on their lapstops, IPads, and phones.

And this isn't 1970 with Rock Hudson and Doris Day.

I'll keep saying this now until it wears a path in the grass or on the rug.

It is time for the Old Hollywood Guard to come down so the new DOT can keep working on the 2010-11 Highway. And the advice and "leadership" that Jake is getting is from Old Guard.

Ted said...

Dear Ted:
So is Toothy Tile still with Grey Goose? Love ya Ted. You da man.
—Nosey Nelly

Dear Dysfunctional Duo:
It's hard to say these days. They definitely haven't called it quits yet, but things are not going smoothly, mostly thanks to Toothy's heaps and heaps of Vicey problems. So Goose has been biding his time with things he thinks are more important while he waits for T2 to get his friggin' act together.

Bitch Back

prairiegirl said...

Thank you Nosey Nelly. Can't get any more straight forward than that.

So Jake and his cheating ways. Jake is one big heaping mess.


Austin, leave his sorry ass.

prairiegirl said...

It is very hard to defend Jake and stand by him. Very, very hard.

Very, very, very, very hard.

There's no hidden meanings there in Ted's answer. He's very straight forward.

I look at Austin as being the ever, too patient one(and I believe Ted has referred before to Austin as being the one to put up with Jake's crap).

I'll repeat - Jake is a mess and he's headed for tragedy in some form or another.

Can I start officially shipping Buckin now?

LOL!

destiny said...

Finally, Ted admits he doesn't exactly know what is going on with J&A.

Don't think Jake will get his act together as long as he is in the closet.

I suspect that Swyll is looked into a contract, and like with Reeke, Taylor will be fine while Jake's stock declines even further.

Taylor has a big world tour next year for her new CD, don't know how long she will be on the road, but I suspect Swyll will last as long as she's on tour. Jake will probably pop up in a couple of places to show his support and because he has nothing better to do.

destiny said...

locked, not looked into a contract

the real m said...

Well at least Ted confirmed they are together. I think the back alley incident may have aggravated the tensions a bit. Ted's reference to Austin focusing his time on things that matter more is one more clue that Austin is Goose ala his gulf efforts.

I am confused by why Ted is at the same time pushing the Taylor Jake story. Could this be his way of rubbing salt in the wounds to keep them (goose and toothy) agitated so that there is a resolution sooner than later.

destiny said...

I never know what to think of Ted pushing the showmance stories either. Part of it is just his job, I guess. What I'm really not sure of is his criticism of how dull they are hinting at how much interesting it would be if they just used their real relationships, which would have more life and sexual heat, or is he really just trying to get these people to do better showmances because he clearly thinks they are required in HW (so disagree on that point).