Be My Juliette Gréco


Classical Academy | Performers | Jazz & Blues

 

Juliette Gréco, legendary French actress and singer, was born in Montpellier to a Corsican father an a mother involved in the French Résistance. Raised by her grandparents, she became a devotee of the bohemian lifestyle, befriending Jean-Paul Sartres as well as many other intellectuals in the cafes of Saint Germain. After the war this group of French bohemians were joined by many American jazz artists who came over the Atlantic to play in the trendy jazz clubs in Paris.

 

It was there that Gréco met a 20 year old Miles Davis - "a real Giacometti", she called him, "with a face of great beauty". She didn't speak English; he didn't speak French. Yet that didn't seem to matter - they fell in love. Much later, Gréco talked about this magical time of her life. "Miles didn't hear me sing until much later in New York, at the Waldorf-Astoria. Before that, to him, I was just me, a girl with a strange face, and it was me he loved, which made me happy. At that point I'd had only very limited success as an actress. I was becoming famous without really having done anything, which is a very uncomfortable position. I didn't talk much, only when I needed to ask questions - about existentialism, about things I'd read about without really understanding."

 

On one memorable occassion, Sartre turned to Miles Davis and asked why him an Juliette didn't get married. "Because I love her too much to make her unhappy", he replied, knowing that pre-civil rights America would make their relationship a great struggle. Let's let Juliette finish the story: "between Miles and me there was a great love affair, the kind you'd want everybody to experience. Throughout our lives, we were never lost to each other. Whenever he could, he would leave messages for me in the places I travelled in Europe: "I was here, you weren't". At their final meeting, a few months before he died, Miles laughed as Juliette turned to walk to the verandah and said, "no matter where I was, in whatever corner of he world, looking at that back, I'd know it was you".

 

Delight in the glorious love songs of Juliette Gréco and think about that special man to which she would have sung them with our special playlist.