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Raquel Rastenni

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Raquel Rastenni (August 21, 1915-August 20, 1998), born Anna Rachel Rastén, was a popular Danish singer. She was born in Copenhagen, and grew up in a little apartment in the poor central part of the city. Her parents had immigrated to Denmark from Russia at the start of the 1900s. Her father was a tailor, and her mother was a seamstress.

She started her career as a dancer in the Helsingør Revue in 1936 and had her debut as a singer in 1938, when she was also broadcast on radio for the first time. She sang with various orchestras through the early 1940s and in 1940 formed her own swing trio. That same year her first record was released. She also toured during these years in Sweden.

As a Jew, she fled Denmark in October 1943 along with her family, as the country had come under Nazi occupation. She spent the war years in Sweden where she continued having great success with her career, performing with orchestras and in cabarets and varieties. Her jazz singing style has been compared to that of Ella Fitzgerald.

She returned to Denmark in 1945 and in the years that followed she became Denmark’s leading female ballad singer. Among her successes were Vovsen i vinduet (“(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window?”) in 1953 and Heksedansen (“The Witch Dance”) in 1960. Her best-selling song was Hele ugen alene (“All week alone”) in 1953 which sold over 120,000 copies. She was the first artist in Denmark to earn a gold record. She continued to garner awards throughout her career.

In addition to her Danish language recordings, she recorded also in Swedish, Yiddish and Hebrew.

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