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Barbara Biography

Under her simple stage name "Barbara," Monique Andree Serf (b. Paris June 19, 1930, d. Neuilly-sur-Seine November 24-25, 1997) was an immensely popular French singer and composer in the cabaret style. As the French Yahoo encyclopedia puts it, she appeared as "a fragile woman, of dark sensuality, frail voice and careful diction." There was definitely something Piaf-like about her. She was born in the seventeenth arrondissement of Paris, the second child of fur salesman Jacques Serf, of Alsatian Jewish origin (b. Paris November 25, 1904, d. Nantes December 20, 1959), and Esther Brodsky, born in Tiraspol, Moldavia. During the German occupation the family took refuge in several localities in France; in 1942 they had to flee from one of them, Tarbes, after they were denounced as Jews. In 1944, still under the occupation, the future "Barbara," who would accompany herself on the piano, underwent the first of seven operations on her right hand. After the war, she studied music in Paris, auditing courses at the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique. In 1950, she ran off to Brussels for two years, where she was at first lodged by her cousin Sacha Piroutsky, a balalaika player, who became somewhat violent with her. It is there that she first appeared on stage under the name Barbara Brody. Back in France, on October 31, 1953, she married Claude Jean Luc Sluys (b. January 7, 1928); this union, lasting a few months, was not formally dissolved until November 12, 1962. Barbara became famous during the 1960s and has remained so, even now when she lies buried in the Bagneux cemetery, near Paris, in her mother's family plot, under a gravestone displaying a star of David.

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