Days after she gave her first stage performance in two years, Belgian singer Maurane has died aged 57.
Maurane was found dead at her home in Schaerbeek, near Brussels, on Monday evening. The cause of death is not yet known but is not seen as suspicious.
She was best known in recent years for her role in a TV talent show for young singers, Nouvelle Star (New Star).
She had been forced to halt her singing career in 2016 because of problems with her vocal cords.
Born Claudine Luypaerts, she was known across the French-speaking world and had performed with artists including Celine Dion and Johnny Hallyday.
She had returned to the stage in Brussels at the weekend, taking part in a concert in tribute to the late Jacques Brel, one of Belgium’s most famous singer-songwriters. She was preparing to go on tour in spring 2019.
“Today I’m officially setting foot on stage after more than two years’ absence,” she wrote on Facebook on Thursday. “I won’t tell you what state I’m in. You can just imagine.”
Only 24 hours before her death she had given an interview speaking of a kind of “rebirth”, because health problems meant “I really believed for almost a year that I would never sing again”.
Her return to the stage, in a duet with young Belgian artist Typh Barrow, was widely praised. One person in the audience tweeted that “talent is like riding a bike, you never lose it!”
Born on 12 November 1960 to a pianist mother and the director of a music academy, Maurane took part in several singing competitions as a teenager and had a role in the musical Starmania.
Danser, the first of her ten solo albums, was released in 1986.
In 1991, Ami ou Ennemi sold more than 300,000 copies and received a platinum disc in France. Its songs included Sur un Prélude de Bach, one of the most watched videos on her official YouTube channel.
One of her most successful hits came in 2002 in a duet with Canadian-Belgian singer Lara Fabian. A hit in both France and Belgium, Tu Es Mon Autre was nominated as Song of the Year at France’s Victoires de la Musique awards.
Maurane was well-known for her outspokenness and her anger.
Hailing a “rare” artist “bigger than music”, Fabian said on Facebook: “I’m sitting here in my little white office in Montreal, I don’t want to believe that you’re gone, I can’t. I’m thinking you’re going to call and tell me off because we don’t see each other enough.”
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said on Twitter: “A committed artist left us tonight, Maurane, an outstanding singer, an inspiring voice, an endearing personality.”
She had a daughter, Lou, who was born in 1993.
French singer Michel Fugain said he was “devastated” by the news while Hélène Ségara said “her grief was immense”.
A post-mortem examination would determine the cause of death, a Belgian prosecutor was quoted by public broadcaster RTBF as saying. There was no suspicion that “a third party” was involved in the death, a spokesman said.