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Jacques Romain Georges Brel (8 April 1929 in Schaerbeek– 9 October 1978 Bobigny) was a Belgian singer, songwriter and actor who composed and performed literate, thoughtful, and theatrical songs that generated a large, devoted following—initially in Belgium and France, later throughout the world. He was widely considered a master of the modern chanson. Although he recorded most of his songs in French and occasionally in Dutch, he became a major influence on English-speaking songwriters and performers such as David Bowie, Alex Harvey, Leonard Cohen, Marc Almond and Rod McKuen. English translations of his songs were recorded by many top performers in the United States, including Ray Charles, Judy Collins, John Denver, the Kingston Trio, Nina Simone, Frank Sinatra, Scott Walker, and Andy Williams.
In French-speaking countries, Brel was also a successful actor, appearing in ten films. He also directed two films, one of which, Le Far West, was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1973.