So, what do you think was special about Édith Piaf?
She had what we all have inside of us, only we can’t express it.
That’s why we needed her to be the story teller and to enchant us with her songs and her soul.
Love has never been sang about with such gusto and heart until her, and maybe even after.
Read the article below to learn more about the one and only La Môme, and watch the video that will make you sing.
(This week, the verb CHANTER – to sing)
Born Édith Giovanna Gassion on the 19 December 1915, she sang her love, loss and sorrow in songs like « La Vie en rose » , « Non, je ne regrette rien », « Hymne à l’amour », « Milord », « La Foule », « l’Accordéoniste », and « Padam… Padam… ».
Some say that she was born on the pavement of Rue de Belleville 72, to Louis-Alphonse Gassion, Édith’s father, who was a street performer of acrobatics from Normandy with a past in the theatre. Her mother, Annetta Giovanna Maillard worked as a café singer under the name Line Marsa. Arts went in her family.
Piaf’s mother abandoned her at birth, and she spent her childhood in a brothel in Normandy ran by her paternal grandmother, and she was taken care of by prostitutes.
In 1929, at age 14, she joined her father in his acrobatic street performances all over France, where she first sang in public.
In 1933, when Piaf was 17 years old, her daughter, Marcelle, known as Cécelle, was born in the Hôpital Tenon, but died of meningitis at age two.
In 1935, Piaf was discovered in the Pigalle area of Paris by nightclub owner Louis Leplée, whose club Le Gerny off the Champs-Élysées was frequented by the upper and lower classes alike. He gave her the stage name La Môme Piaf (because she was very tiny, only 142 cm), taught her the basics of stage presence and told her to wear a black dress, basically creating the icon we know today.
Her shows started to attract the presence of many celebrities like Maurice Chevalier, Yves Montand, and Charles Aznavour.
Piaf was deemed to have been a traitor and collaboratrice during the German occupation, soon to be discovered that she was a clever enabler of the Résistance.
The men in her life not only shaped her personally, but her music, as her songs are autobiographic: Louis Dupont (the father of her daughter), her affair with boxer Marcel Cerdan, her two husbands Jacques Pills and Théo Sarapo.
Years of alcohol abuse alongside copious amounts of medications, initially for arthritic pain and later insomnia, took their toll on Piaf’s health. A series of car accidents only exacerbated her addictions and she eventually underwent a series of surgeries for a stomach ulcer. Coupled with a deteriorating liver and a need for a blood transfusion, she had lost a significant amount of weight reaching 30 kilos.
A star was born from the dust of the streets and was going to go back to where she came from, leaving a legacy like no other. We listen to her songs, romanticizing her life, which was hard to say the least. The movie “La vie en rose” shows the other side of her life, the backstage of pain and distress, only to give us a better idea what an unique artist she was, creating her own “fleurs du mal”, the prolific art fed by her tears.
I will always have a bitter-sweet feeling when I listen to her songs. They are full of a sad love, love nevertheless.
Her 100th birthday would have been this December 19th. She got to live less than half of what could have been, and left us with music that will live many centuries to come.
Hats off to the artist!
Article featured in The Huffington Post
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