Artists - Sister Luc Gabrielle (“The Singing Nun”)

Artist Biography

Jeanne “Jeanine” Deckers was born on October 17th, 1933 in Brussels. She developed an interest in music in her teen years and bought her first guitar when she was 15 to play at her Catholic GirlGuiding events during high school.  “Jeanine” went on to teach sculpture after graduation. During the summer of 1959, Jeanine attended a scout camp, where she met Annie Pecher and developed a close relationship with her that would carry on throughout her life. After a short time, Jeanine decided teaching didn’t suit her and ended up choosing to dedicate her life to the Catholic Church. In September 1959, she entered the Missionary Dominican Sisters of Our Lady of Fichermont taking on the name Sister Luc Gabrielle. 

During her time there, she would write and perform her own songs for the other nuns, who absolutely loved them. So much so, that her superiors encouraged her to record an album that could be purchased by visitors to the convent. Following her first single “Dominique” in 1961 (which remains the only Belgian song to be a #1 single in the US) she would go on to become an international hit with her album selling a whopping two million copies. She first appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show on January 5th, 1964 which gained her an even bigger following. So much so, a film titled The Singing Nun was released in 1965 (starring Debbie Reynolds).  By then Sister Luc considered it a work of “fiction” and dismissed its significance.

Her life after The Ed Sullivan Show was quite complicated. Sister Luc had fallen into a deep depression while at the convent as she felt she was trapped and couldn’t be her true self. Due to conflicts with her superiors at the convent, she ended up leaving in 1966. Her departure resulted in controversy due to her activism against the Catholic Church, particularly with her song “Glory Be To God For The Golden Pill” which defended the use of contraception. During this time still known as “Sister Luc” opened up a center for autistic children. 

And, during this time she ended up reconnecting with Annie Pecher, and the two became involved. Their time together was short,  as the Belgian government claimed now back to “Jeanine” owed $63,000 from royalties of her music which she could not pay, putting her into heavy financial debt. Tragically in a joint act,  Jeanine and Annie ended up taking their own lives on March 29th, 1985. Jeanine’s story, while heartbreaking, became a big part of LGBTQ+ history as she is seen as an icon to younger generations who came after her.