Jeanne Deckers aka The Singing Nun - Nominee

1933 - 1985

In 1963, Dominican nun Sister Luc-Gabrielle recorded an LP at Philips Record Company in Brussels.  One song from the album, ‘Dominique’, went #1 worldwide - selling over 1.5 million copies.  Under the name Soeur Sourire (Sister Smile) she appeared on the legendary “Ed Sullivan Show” – a performance that made her an international superstar.  In 1964 she won a Grammy for Best Gospel Recording and in 1965 MGM produced a highly fictionalized movie of her life – ‘The Singing Nun’ – starring Debbie Reynolds.  Her follow-up LP ‘Her Joys, Her Songs’ was not a success, however.  Having grown increasingly critical of Catholic doctrines – particularly the Church’s stand on artificial contraception – Jeanne left the order in 1967.  Under the name “Luc Dominique” – since Philips owned the rights to the name ‘Soeur Sourire’ – she recorded the album ‘I Am Not a Star in Heaven’ – but it also proved a commercial failure.  Realizing her music career was over, Deckers, along with her companion of ten years, Annie Pescher, opened a school for autistic children.  In the early 1980s the Belgian government claimed she owed $63,000 in back taxes for royalties from ‘Dominique’.  Deckers countered that as all proceeds from the record’s sales were donated to the Convent no taxes were due; but the government would not relent and threatened to shut down the school.  In an ill-fated attempt to raise the money Deckers tried to reignite her music career with a doomed disco synthesizer version of ‘Dominique.’  Citing financial difficulties, Jeanne Deckers and Annie Pescher died by suicide together through an overdose of barbiturates and alcohol on March 29, 1985.  The note they left said simply “We hope God will welcome us.  He saw us suffer.”

Jeanne Deckers Headshot

Demography

Gender Female

Sexual Orientation Lesbian

Gender Identity Cisgender

Ethnicity Caucasian/White

Faith Construct Catholic

Nations Affiliated Belgium

Era/Epoch Cold War (1945-1991) Information Age (1970-present)

Field(s) of Contribution

Music

Religion

Social Justice

Commemorations & Honors

Deckers Song Dominique Released Becoming the Only Belgian Song to Achieve Number One Hit Single Status in the US (1961)

Ed Sullivan Show Appearance (1964)

Grammy Award Winner for Best Gospel Recording (1964)

Franco-Belgian Biopic Sœur Sourire Starring Cécile de France as Deckers Released (2009)

Authorship

Original Biography Author
Owen Keehnen
Biography Edited By
Victor Salvo
Resources Coordination
Carrie Maxwell