> Nonnes Of The Above

« Back to Nonnes Of The Above

Jeanine Deckers was a nun

Jeanine Deckers was a nun

in the Dominican Fichermont Convent in Fichermont,Belgium. She used to write, sing and perform her own material there, which was so well received that the monastery decided to let her record an album. Visitors of the monastery would then be able to take a copy home.

In 1963 the album was recorded in Brussels at Philips. The single "Dominique" became an international hit. Many radio stations in the U.S. included "Dominique" and other softer hits more often in their rotations in the wake of the John Fitzgerald Kennedy assassination. Overnight, the Dominican nun was an international celebrity with the stage name of Soeur Sourire (Sister Smile). She gave concerts and appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. To this day "Dominique" is only one of two Belgian number one hit singles in the United States. (Technotronic's hit Pump Up The Jam reached number one in 1989).
Effects of fame and further musical career

In 1966, a movie called The Singing Nun was made about her, starring Debbie Reynolds in the title role. Deckers rejected the film as "fictional". Sally Field spoofed the role starting the following year as "The Flying Nun".

In 1967 Deckers left her monastery to continue her musical career under the name "Luc Dominique" and released an album called "I Am Not a Star in Heaven". Her repertoire consisted of religious songs and songs for children. Most of her earnings went to the convent. Despite her renewed musical emphasis, Deckers gradually faded into obscurity, possibly because of her own disdain for fame: she was never able to duplicate the success of her one hit wonder.

Political views

Although she was deeply religious, she was also increasingly critical of some of the Roman Catholic Church's doctrine and eventually became an advocate of birth control. She also agreed with John Lennon's statements about Jesus in 1966. In 1967, she recorded a song entitled "Glory Be to God for the Golden Pill" — a paean to contraception — under the name Luc Dominique. It met with large commercial failure. She was also a lesbian and a strong supporter of gay rights in her later years.

Last remaining years

Her musical career over, Deckers opened a school for autistic children in Belgium with her lesbian companion of ten years, Annie Pécher.[citation needed] In the late 1970s (mentioned in the July 22, 1978 broadcast of American Top 40), the Belgian government claimed that she owed around US$ 50,000 in back taxes. Deckers countered that the money was given to the convent and therefore exempt from taxes. Lacking any receipts to prove her donations to the convent and her religious order, Deckers ran into heavy financial problems. In 1982 she tried, once again as Soeur Sourire, to score a hit with a disco version of "Dominique", but this last attempt to resume her singing career failed. She and Pécher both died in 1985 of suicide by an intentional overdose of barbiturates and alcohol. The two were very close and had put all their belongings into boxes with notes to explain what had to be done with it. They are buried together in the same grave.

In 1996, The Tragic and Horrible Life of the Singing Nun premiered Off-Broadway at The Grove Street Playhouse. The play, which was written and directed by Blair Fell, was loosely based on the events in Deckers' life. The production, which featured several musical numbers, followed the renamed character Jeanine Fou's life from her entry into the convent until her death with Pécher. The play's critical success led the Catholic League to speak out publicly against the production.