mémoire du piaf

piaf, taken from the bluegrass special
édith piaf: a brief melody
the places of piaf: a brief history
  • paris: in 1915, piaf was born as édith giovanna gassion to a mother who was a café singer and a father who was a street acrobat.
  • normandy: where she lived with her paternal grandmother who ran a brothel.
  • lisieux: piaf had impaired eyesight until she was seven due to keratitis, an inflammation of the cornea. one of the possible causes of this condition is herpes. regained her eyesight after a pilgrimage to sainte thérèse’s home in lisieux.
  • paris: where first sang in public at age 14, performing with her father’s acrobatic troupe.
  • paris: fell in love at age 16 with a delivery boy and had a girl, marcelle. the child lived until she was two years old.
  • paris: her next boyfriend was a pimp who took her money in exchange for not making her act as a prostitute.
  • paris: in 1935, louis leplée, owner of the paris club le gerny, convinced her to sing at his club. since she was so small (4’8″) and nervous, he nicknamed her piaf, or little sparrow. within a year, she had multiple records produced.

    Gerny's (By kind permission of Christina L Fisher)
    le gerny’s*
  • paris: in 1936, leplée was murdered. piaf was questioned, accused of being an accessory to murder, but then acquitted. she set on a mission to revamp her identity, which included changing her name to édith piaf.
  • worldwide: over the course of her career, she had many lovers and met with great success, starring in movies and having her voice in high demand.
  • new york city: she was not very popular in the states until a prominent critic gave her a great review; she went on to perform at carnegie hall twice.
  • france/us: in 1945, she sang la vie en rose. it was given a grammy hall of fame award in 1998.
  • plascassier or paris: in 1963, at 47, piaf died of liver cancer. she is buried in pére lachaise cemetery in paris, next to her only child. also in paris, a two-room museum, the musée édith piaf, is devoted to her legacy.
*credit: Christina Fisher

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