Jacques Brel (April 8, 1929 – October 9, 1978) was a respected Belgian French-speaking singer and author-composer, considered by many as a poet as well, given the power of his lyrics. Known in the anglophone world for the translations of his songs, he is also remembered in French-speaking countries as an actor and director.
Brel was born in Schaarbeek, Belgium, a district of Brussels, but lived most of his life in Paris. He died in Bobigny in the suburbs of Paris, of lung cancer, and is buried in the Marquesas Islands.
Although the Brels spoke French, they were of Flemish descent, with some of the family originating from Zandvoorde, near Ieper. Brel's father was co-owner of a cardboard factory and Brel started his professional life at that firm, apparently destined to follow in his father's footsteps. He showed an interest in culture as well, having joined the Catholic-humanist youth organisation Franche CordÃ©e, where he did some singing and acting. At Franche CordÃ©e he met ThÃ©rÃ¨se Michielsen ('Miche'). They married in 1950. In the early 1950s Brel achieved some minor success in B...