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Alice Babs, 90; singer won praise for work with Ellington

NEW YORK — Alice Babs, a Swedish singer acclaimed for her work with Duke Ellington, died Feb. 11 in Stockholm. She was 90.

Ms. Babs, a soprano with a three-octave range, first performed with Ellington’s orchestra in Europe in 1963, and although she was never a full-time member, she worked with Ellington frequently. She first drew widespread praise from US jazz critics for her performances at his so-called Sacred Concerts.

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She had already been a pop star in Europe for two decades when she first worked with Ellington, appearing in several movies and representing Sweden at the 1958 Eurovision Song Contest. In the late 1950s and early ’60s, she worked with two Danish musicians, violinist Svend Asmussen and guitarist Ulrik Neumann, in the group Swe-Danes, which performed in the United States as well as in Europe.

In 1972, Ms. Babs was the first non-opera singer to be named Sweden’s royal court singer. She later became a member of the Royal Academy of Music.

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