EDITH PIAF :Life was pink in her song but in her voice there was always sorrow

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Eklenme Tarihi: October 10, 2013 ART
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 With her birth in the slums of Paris, a bitter life greeted her… First she lost her mother, she fell in love, got pregnant, and lost her child from meningitis. She turned to alcohol to make up for her losses… This habit, which was eating her alive, was also a piece of her voice and style. She went down in history as an exceptional performer who had great sorrow and was a drinker…

 She meets her first love, P’tit Louis, when she is singing like this. Edith is 16 while Louis is 17. Edith leaves her father to live with P’tit. This very poor couple have a daughter named Marcelle. Unfortunately, this little girl dies of meningitis at the age of two. With the loss of her daughter, she turns to drinking which would later consume her body and cause her death at an early age.

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‘La Vie en Rose” was first recorded in 1946. The Little Sparrow’s last recorded song was ‘L’homme de Berlin’ in April, 1963. Edith Piaf gained immortality with her songs ‘Hymne à l’Amour’ (1949) which was a lament after the death of Marcel Cerdan, ‘Milord’ (1959) which was about a bar girl’s hopeless love and consolation for the man she loves and ‘Non,Je Ne Regrette Rien’ (1960) which told the courage of the person who never had any regrets after a life fulfilled.

‘The Little Sparrow’ Edith Piaf, who first captured the attention of France, then of Europe and the world,  had literally come from the pavements with her 1.5 meters height and misty voice.  She was an artist who left a mark in her time as the rebellious child of the slums.

THE CHURCH CALLED HER A SINNER; THE PEOPLE COULD NOT CARE LESS!

Piaf, whose real name is Edith Giovanna Gassion, turned to drugs and alcohol as an attempt to deal with the pains and hardships in her life. When she died of liver cancer she was only 47. She had fame and wealth. Growing up in brothels, this ‘Little Sparrow’ jumped classes with her glamorous voice which made her one of the greatest jazz vocalists of all time, however she never really got along with the bourgeoisie. Because she did not follow a bourgeoisie lifestyle, she was declared a ‘sinner’ by the church. When she died, the Archbishop of Paris Catholic Church refused to make her funeral arrangements due to the life she had lived. There was no religious funeral ceremony for Piaf however her burial was magnificent with the attendance of 40 thousand people.

WELCOMING LIFE FROM THE SLUMS!…

In 19th of December 1915, Edith Giovanna Gassion was born in Belleville, Paris as the daughter of Louis-Alphonse Gassion who was a street performer doing acrobatics and Anita Maillard who was a 17 year old singer who performed in shady locations. She received her name ‘Edith’ in memory of the British nurse Edith Cavell who helped French soldiers escape from German camps during WWI. 20 years later she would get the name ‘Piaf’ which meant sparrow.

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CHILDHOOD YEARS FILLED WITH MISERY…

Shortly after Edith’s birth, her mother Maillard leaves her with her grandmother with an excuse to work and goes to Istanbul. She continues her life as a singer in night clubs and as a prostitute. After Edith’s father joins the war, her childhood years are spent in her grandmother’s brothel in Normandy. After staying there for nearly three years, she loses her sight due to meningitis however after two years she heals by herself.  She would later describe her early years spent with hunger, poverty and disease as the happiest years of her life. However this ‘happy’ period comes to an end with the return of her father, Louis-Alphonse, from war.  With her acrobat father, they perform in circuses and sometimes on the streets. The father performs his show while little Edith sings.

FIRST LOVE AND PLENTY OF ALCOHOL…

She meets her first love, P’tit Louis, when she is singing like this. Edith is 16 while Louis is 17. Edith leaves her father to live with P’tit. This very poor couple has a daughter named Marcelle. Unfortunately, this little girl dies of meningitis at the age of two. With the loss of her daughter, she turns to drinking which would later consume her body and cause her death at an early age.  In her biography, Piaf tells of the period she started drinking: “ I started to really drink when they buried my daughter in that dark hole. I went to a pub and started drinking without even taking a breath of air. When I regained consciousness in the early hours of the morning, I had realized that alcohol dims every pain and helps forget, so I started to drink again. This did not seem that peculiar to me. Where I was born, everyone drank. My grandmother used to give me a bottle of wine an some water every morning when I was little. The day I realized that drinking made me forget, I was lost in the deepness of life’s hopelessness. Alcohol was like a miracle, however it was the devil’s miracle.”

 

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THE BIRTH OF ‘THE LITTLE SPARROW’…

Edith Giovanna Gassion’s life changes in 1935, when she meets club owner Louis Leplée while she is singing near Pigalle. Leplée becomes fascinated with the strong voice inside the tiny body of Edith and gives her the stage name ‘La Mome Piaf’. He helps this 1.47 meters tall petite woman overcome her stage fright. In Paris slang, this name means ‘the little sparrow’ and it would later become a legend; many petite singers in other countries would try to get this title themselves. Edith Piaf, who had been in the same circle with famous people since 1940s, was the one who discovered Yves Montand in 1944. In the early years of 1950s, she made Charles Aznavour join her in tour and enter the music industry. During the years that followed World War II, she became a worldwide known star.

IMMORTAL SONGS…
“La Vie en Rose”, which is probably one of the first songs that comes to mind, was first recorded in 1946. The Little Sparrow’s last recorded song was ‘L’homme de Berlin’ in April, 1963. Edith Piaf gained immortality with her songs ‘Hymne à l’Amour’ (1949) which was a lament after the death of Marcel Cerdan, ‘Milord’ (1959) which was about a bar girl’s hopeless love and consolation for the man she loves and ‘Non,Je Ne Regrette Rien’ (1960) which told the courage of the person who never had any regrets after a life fulfilled.


Edith Piaf was a woman who learned life through her rights and wrongs. She took life as it came, with all the sorrow and the pain. Just when she would get up from being knocked over by the blows of life, she would meet another challenge. You can feel the misery of her life in every one of her songs. Probably what made her who she was, was her suffering. When she passed away on 1963, she became France’s and even the world’s most treasured love artist, above all she became an icon of France.