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France French Caribbean Music

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Bossa nova singer Jenny Alpha dies

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© Aztec musique

The singer Jenny Alpha has died at the age of 100 years old, two years after recording her last album, “The Serenade of the Lily of the Valley”.


A familiar figure in French jazz clubs, Alpha crossed paths with actress Josephine Baker and musician Duke Ellington. After the Second World War, she campaigned for recognition of Creole culture, at a time when the poets and activists Aimé Césaire and Léopold Sédar Senghor were fighting for the promotion of black conciousness.

Originally from the French overseas territory of Martinique, Alpha moved to Paris in 1929 to become a teacher. She soon started singing bossa nova in French cabarets and music halls.

In a tribute to Alpha, French Minister of Culture Frédéric Mitterrand said that “as Aimé Césaire and Léopold Sedar Senghor had become advocates of negritude, she devoted all her energy and talent to the defense and recognition of Creole culture.”

In 1984, she acted in The Ordinary Madness of a daughter of Cham, a play written by Caribbean writer Julieus Amédée Laou.

Still healthy at 94, she rehearsed Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard, under the direction of the Haitian Jean-Pierre Lemoine.

To watch her perfrom on Youtube click here.