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French-Jewish singer Georges Moustaki dies at 79

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(JTA) — Georges Moustaki, a French singer and songwriter known as “The Wandering Jew,” has died.

Moustaki’s Paris-based production company said he had died early Thursday at his home in Nice in southern France following a long illness, the French news agency AFP reported. He was 79.

The Greece native won his nickname in France for his simple musical style and melancholic ballads that he sang himself, as well as wrote and composed in the 1960s for such renowned artists as Edith Piaf, Yves Montand and Juliette Greco.

Among the more famous of the hundreds of songs he wrote is “Les Meres Juives,” or “The Jewish Mothers.”

Moustaki told the RTL radio station in December that he wanted to be buried in Alexandria, where he grew up and lived until he was 17 with his Jewish parents, who came there from Corfu, Greece. They later moved to France, where he spent the rest of his life.

French Culture Minister Aurelie Filipperti wrote on her Twitter account that Moustaki “was a dedicated and committed artist who held humanist values, a great poet.”

Moustaki sang in French, Italian, English, Greek, Portuguese, Arabic and Spanish.

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