Elly Stone

I only met Elly Stone once. It was outside an off Broadway theater about ten or fifteen years ago.

She was there with a friend of a friend. When I learned who she was, I was very excited.

Her response was astonishment that I would know about her, since she had not been famous anymore for many years. I explained that Jacques Brel is Alive and Living in Paris had been one of my formative influences.

The original Broadway production was before my time, but when I was a teenager I was involved in an amateur production of it, and that was my first introduction to Jacques Brel. I had never expected to meet any of the original cast.

For years afterward, I would obsessively listen to the original cast album. My two favorite numbers were Carousel and Marieke, both sung by Elly Stone, and I can definitely say that those two songs had an enormous influence on my concept of what can be accomplished within a song.

She and I had a very nice chat that evening, and then everyone went in to see the play — I completely forget now what it was. I never saw her again.

Elly Stone passed away the other day at the age of 93. When I read that sad news, I found myself hearing her within my head, singing those incredible songs, her powerful yet vulnerable voice still full of infinite sadness and defiance.

I would like to think that wherever she is, Elly Stone is now singing duets with Jacques Brel.

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