Edith Piaf celebrated on 100th anniversary of her birth

NEW YORK -- Edith Piaf would have turned 100 this month and never has she been more vital.

The cabaret singer who once sang on the streets for spare change was celebrated and channeled by the likes of Madonna and Celine Dion in the days after the worst attack on French soil in more than a half-century.

See Full Article

"She knew what is trauma. She knew what is hurting. She cried in her life," said Christine Laume, her sister-in-law. "I'm sure if she was alive she would be so sorry for what happened to France."

Piaf, famous for her hit "La Vie En Rose," stood only 4 feet 8 inches, yet her voice was strong and distinctive, a trembling alto wail that became the voice of the Paris working class. She was nicknamed Little Sparrow.

Record label Parlophone is celebrating her Dec. 19 birthday with "Intgrale 2015," a massive box set of 350 tracks, including rare recording sessions, rehearsals, a 1962 interview and seven live performances. It clocks in at more than 20 hours on 20 CDs, re-mastered from the original 78-rpm vinyl records and tapes.

"Her voice sets her apart from all other singers. Something happens when she sings. You stop dead, you listen and you are immediately moved by her powerful and aching tone," said Matthieu Moulin, who supervised the box set. "Contrary to others, you don't hear Edith Piaf. You listen to her."

Piaf was born Edith Giovanna Gassion in the working-class Belleville neighbourhood in Paris, where she was discovered singing on the streets with her alcoholic father. She was later raised by prostitutes in her grandmother's Normandy brothel. Her hardscrabble upbringing helped her connect with ordinary people.

Piaf, whose other best-known songs include "Milord," "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien," "Padam, Padam" and "La Foule," was 47 when she died Oct. 10, 1963, from exhaustion and liver disease. Marlene Dietrich called her voice "the soul of Paris."

"She lived her songs. Each song was like a story she was telling people," said Laume, who wrote about Piaf in "The Last Love of Edith Piaf," published in 2013. "She was not acting. She was giving herself."

Piaf will be celebrated this month from the Cairo Opera House to an exhibit at The Bibliotheque Nationale de France. Those wanting more can watch the 2007 film, "La Vie En Rose," starring Marion Cotillard, who won an Oscar for best actress for her portrayal of the singer who turned even mediocre songs into epic tragedies.

"Her lyrics were often sad, but there was always a space for hope and better days in them," said Moulin. "They represented her life, but also everyone's life and this is the reason why the audience loves them so much."

Her rocky love life attracted almost as much attention as her music, especially her marriage to her second husband, Theo Sarapo, nearly 20 years her junior, who was with her until the end.

Laume, Sarapo's sister who was invited to live with him and Piaf when she was 20, recalls in her book an intimate side of the singer, sharing stories of them bonding late at night over tea. Piaf, she said, cared deeply about people.

"She was a woman who was very simple but very intelligent and very caring," said Laume. "Somebody who suffered so much, you cannot help. But you can listen. So that's what I did."

The terrorist attacks in Paris on Nov. 13 prompted many to re-embrace Piaf. Political comedian John Oliver on HBO listed her among the finest things from French culture, including, "Camus, Camembert, madeleines, macaroons, Marcel Proust."

Madonna paid tribute to the dead during a Stockholm concert by singing "La Vie En Rose." And Dion performed "L'Hymne a L'Amour," a French classic made famous by Piaf, at the American Music Awards.

"Having her name quoted in such tragic times proves that she remains the most important and charismatic French singer of all time," said Moulin. "Her strange power will not cease to fascinate, that's for sure. Piaf is a miracle."

Sarapo died seven years after Piaf in a car accident, and Laume, who now lives in New Jersey, mourns both to this day. She smiles when she hears Piaf songs, particularly "La Vie En Rose."

"It reflected Edith," she said. "When she was in love, she said life was in pink."



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • Jet owned by Elvis to be auctioned after sitting 30 years

    Entertainment CTV News
    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- A private jet once owned by Elvis Presley and featured on the National Geographic Channel is set to be auctioned after sitting on a runway in New Mexico for 30 years. The red 1962 Lockheed Jetstar, one of many owned by the King of rock 'n' roll, has no engines and needs a restoration of its cockpit. Source
  • With catcalls and applause, Cannes debates rise of Netflix

    Entertainment CTV News
    CANNES, France -- This year's Cannes Film Festival has been a sprawling, international referendum on Netflix, with votes registered in catcalls and applause, and some of the biggest names in cinema staking out their positions. Source
  • Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson recreates iconic SUNshine Boy photo on 'SNL'

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson donned some familiar garb to recreate an iconic photo from his past. One of the photo bumpers leading into commercials during Saturday's episode of SNL featured the Baywatch star wearing a black turtle neck, gold neck chain, leather fanny pack, and tissue paper under the wrist. Source
  • Canadian connection: Drake meets Celine Dion at Billboards

    Entertainment CTV News
    LAS VEGAS - Even on a record-setting night at the Billboard Music Awards, Drake appeared a bit star-struck in meeting fellow Canadian performer Celine Dion backstage. The rapper posted a picture of himself and his father with Dion, who sang "My Heart Will Go On" from "Titanic" to mark the 20th anniversary of the film. Source
  • Schwarzenegger says you can have four Hummers and still save planet

    Entertainment CTV News
    Arnold Schwarzenegger has four Hummers and likes nothing better than getting up at 5 a.m. to ride his Harley Davidson to the beach for breakfast. Yet "The Terminator" star insists that should not stop him being an environmental evangelist. Source
  • After seven world titles, Brampton Irish dancer Michaela Hinds going out on top

    Entertainment CBC News
    After stepping her way to seven world titles, Brampton's Michaela Hinds is retiring as the most decorated North American competitor in Irish dancing history. The 22-year-old captured her final crown at the World Irish Dancing Championship in Dublin in April. Source
  • FBI to investigate Fyre Festival, report says

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Fyre Festival organisers are reportedly being investigated by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Rapper Ja Rule, real name Jeffrey Atkins, teamed up with technology entrepreneur Billy McFarland to launch the event, which was scheduled to take place in The Bahamas over two weekends, starting on 28 April. Source
  • 'Resident Evil' series set for reboot: Report

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    The Resident Evil franchise is reportedly in the early stages of being rebooted. The famous films debuted in 2002 with Milla Jovovich in the lead role of protagonist Alice, and concluded with a sixth instalment The Final Chapter last year. Source
  • James Cameron sued over Titanic by man who claims he's inspiration for character

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Director James Cameron is being sued by a man who claims to be the inspiration for Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in 1997 movie Titanic. Stephen Cummings, who used to work in the yacht industry, has filed a lawsuit against the moviemaker claiming Cameron stole his life story and used it to create the lead character of Jack Dawson, who wins tickets to travel on the ill-fated Titanic, which famously sank when it struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage from England to America in 1912. Source
  • Canadian actor Adam Beach walks a fine line as an ambassador for Canada 150

    Entertainment CBC News
    Canadian actor Adam Beach finds himself walking a fine line after agreeing to be an ambassador for the federal government's Canada 150 celebrations.Grand chief's 120-km walk to counter Canada 150 festivities, honour resilienceWhat does Canada 150 mean for Indigenous communities??Beach — who overcame a troubled childhood on the Dog Creek reserve in Manitoba to star in Hollywood blockbusters such as Flags of Our Fathers — feels he should help pay tribute to a government that has funded some of…