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Edith Piaf - All about the musician

Today we decided to remember a really brave musician, or rather, a singer. And her name is still revered as a national treasure...

The Complete History of the Musical Icon of Paris - Edith Piaf

Edith Piaf is a French singer and actress. The unique interpretation of the genre "chanson" (or "French ballad") made Edith world famous. Among Piaf's signature songs, one can distinguish "Non, je ne regrette rien" and "La Vie en rose" ("Life in pink" - that is, through "rose-colored glasses", from an optimistic point of view!)

More than 100 years have passed since the birth of Edith Piaf ... It happened on December 19, 1915, on Saturday, around the same time that Albert Einstein made a breakthrough in his general theory of relativity! The baby arrived at the Tenon hospital in the twentieth arrondissement of Paris, although, according to her own version of events, she was taken to the porch of her house at 72 Rue de Belleville after the ambulance did not arrive ... If this was fiction, then the most legendary singer of France I wouldn’t have to embellish the details of my rest of my life – full of romanticism, drama, tragedy… Childhood in a brothel, blindness in infancy, joining her acrobat father as a teenager, illegal drugs and forever lost love… Edith Piaf’s life was like a drama: to a very beautiful, but so cruel towards the main character ...

Edith Piaf...
Edith Piaf…

Yes, for the current generation of listeners, Piaf may be a little out of fashion ... But as the old football cliché says: fashion is temporary, and classics are permanent. The music of this legendary woman, with languid cabaret motifs, is eternal. And a voice like that of Piaf - with the ability to convey strong emotions - is difficult to meet, if not impossible at all ...

Piaf led such a bohemian and wild life that even Jim Morrison, buried like her in the Pere Lachaise cemetery, looks like a good boy ... Piaf's life was a punk opera long before the genre itself gained popularity!

Childhood, youth...

Piaf's songs and manner of performance largely reflected the tragedies of her own, often such a difficult life ... Her mother, the failed actress Anita Mayar, left little Edith in the care of her mother. But the woman was not up to the child, so she often poured wine diluted with water into her granddaughter's bottle so that she would not bother her. As a result, the girl was handed back to her mother, who at that time kept a brothel. So, Edith spent her childhood in a brothel ... It is known that at the age of three she became blind due to a complication of meningitis ... Fortunately, after a few years her vision was restored!

A couple of years later, Edith joined her father, a circus acrobat. Together they performed on large squares: while the man delighted passers-by with acrobatic stunts, his nine-year-old daughter sang songs ... So, Piaf performed on the streets of Paris for a long time, earning modest money and often being in the company of criminals ...

Edith Piaf...
Edith Piaf…

In 1933, Edith gave birth to a daughter, Marcel, but a few years later the girl died of meningitis ... In 1938, the singer became pregnant again, but the child was stillborn. After that, Edith was never able to become a mother ...

Getting started

In 1935, Edith was discovered by Louis Leple, the owner of a local cabaret. He gave her her first, well-paid job. It was Leplé who started calling her new singer "la môme piaf", which means "little sparrow". He was clearly referring to Piaf's diminutive size: less than 5 feet tall (142 cm) and about 90 pounds in weight (40 kg). Soon this name became professional for our heroine ...

Edith Piaf
Edith Piaf

In 1936, Louis Leple was killed by the mafia, and Piaf was under police surveillance for some time as a suspect (fortunately, all charges were soon dropped against her).

La Momme continued to sing about the streets where she was born and grew up all her life... Sticking to style, already a successful singer, Piaf spent all her money on a farm!

“I told myself I want to raise cows!” she wrote in her memoirs. “It was a hype - then all the artists went into breeding. But in four years, I harvested two kilos of green beans, a pound of strawberries, and a few tomatoes… I raised two chickens, a rabbit, and all the cats in the area. The central heating cost me one and a half million francs ... And I sold my farm for almost nothing, and later, when I got sick, I had no money left to pay the hospital bill ... "

 

Due to lack of funds, Piaf was forced to sell valuable paintings and her jewelry collection. So... it's not surprising that after her death she left her second husband with a huge debt...

Personal life

Throughout her life, Edith had many lovers, including world heavyweight boxing champion Marcel Cerdan. Between him and Piaf there was a very stormy relationship, and this despite the fact that Marseille had a wife and children!

Marcel committed a fatal act, ignoring Edith's fears about the flight ... In order to surprise her on stage in New York, in 1949 he boarded the Air France Lockheed Constellation ... As a result, the plane crashed into Monte Redondo in the Azores, and all the passengers (for a total of 48 people on board) died ... That night, Piaf went on stage after hearing the news and fainted twice in the middle of her performance. Until her death, she claimed that Serdan was her only true love.

Career

An unhappy personal life and an impeccable, albeit dramatic style, emphasized Piaf's expressive voice! She herself was able to excite the audience with her passionate performance of songs that were often about loss and about love ...

In addition to singing, Piaf published two autobiographical books: Au bal de la random (1958) and the posthumously published Ma vie (1964). In addition, the singer's persona has been the subject of several biographies, as well as plays and films ...

As for America, Piaf performed twice at Carnegie Hall (in 1956 and 1957). She also opened the world's largest market more than ten years before the Beatles (it wasn't until 1998 that she received a Grammy Hall of Fame award)! This is a great feat for a European artist, as such artists tend to sing mostly in French.

In fact, Edith Piaf popularized the French language abroad! Her colossal influence has extended to many of today's well-known artists: from Marianne Faithfull and Anna Calvi to Elton John!

Last years…

Later in life, Edith Piaf was involved in several serious car accidents and her health deteriorated, in part due to alcohol abuse...

And now, the 47-year-old singer fell in love again! This time in a 27-year-old Greek hairdresser named Theo (Theofanis Lamboukas). Edith came up with her lover's stage name Sarapo (translated from Greek means "I love you"). She was with him until her death. Theo himself survived her by seven years, but died in a car accident ...

Edith Piaf with Theo Sarapo...
Edith Piaf with Theo Sarapo...

Piaf's last performance took place on March 31, 1963 at the Lille Opera House (capital of the Hauts-de-France region).

On October 10, 1963, Edith passed away. And on October 11, the body of a friend of the singer, Jean Cocteau, was discovered ... There is an opinion that he died upon learning of her death.

Lyrics of the song Edith Piaf - Non, je ne regrette rien (1960)

Finally…

Throughout France, the death of the great singer was mourned, and thousands of people lined the route of her funeral procession.

After her death, Piaf received the highest honor from the French government when the tricolor flag was hung on her coffin. It was not an empty gesture. During World War II, Edith toured the unoccupied zone of Vichy France and apparently helped free up to 300 prisoners of war at the Stalag III-D camp near Berlin by persuading the camp commandant to allow her to be photographed with all the prisoners - the photographs were then used to create false documents for them, according to which they were free French workers in Germany.

In the years that have passed since Piaf's death, it has become commonplace to call musicians "brave" for various reasons: the release of an unusual album, unexpected statements in interviews, tours of rarely visited places, performances at concerts when feeling unwell ... But ... today we decided to remember a truly brave musician or rather, a singer. And her name is still revered as a national treasure.

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