Édith Piaf (1915–1963) was a French singer, songwriter, and actress whose career made her one of the world’s most famous artists. From the moment of her birth to her death, the singer lived through a series of personal tragedies that marked her character.
Some believe that the most difficult moments he overcame influenced his interpretations of his songs in some way. With the help of different composers, he managed to write several songs that became icons, both for the musical history of France and for the rest of the world. Among his most important pieces were La vida en rosa La vida en rosa and No, I don’t regret anything.
It is presumed that the problems she went through led her to generate a dependence on drugs and alcohol, which could have considerably deteriorated her health.
Édith Piaf was born on December 19, 1915 in Paris, France, under the name Édith Giovanna Gassion. Her early years were characterized by a series of difficulties that she began to experience from the date of her birth, the result of the relationship between a traveling singer and an acrobat.
Her father, Louis Alphonse Gassion, abandoned her mother, Annetta Maillard, leaving her pregnant with Édith. Faced with this situation, her mother had to give birth to Édith Piaf completely alone, in the middle of a street in the Gallic country.
The precarious conditions in which the new mother found herself motivated her to leave the girl with her maternal grandmother, the Moroccan Emma Saïd Ben Mohamed. Some use the theory that the lady fed Piaf wine instead of a bottle, with the excuse that this drink killed some microbes.
A short time later, Piaf was reunited with his father, who had to leave to fight in the war shortly after their reunion. This caused the man to leave the minor in the care of her paternal grandmother, who owned a brothel, where she was raised.
When Édith Piaf’s father returned from the war, he took the girl with him. Part of her childhood was spent performing with her father on the streets, moments in which the young singer discovered her talent.
The theory is that at approximately 15 years of age he separated from his father to embark on a new path on his own.
Years later, she fell in love with a man with whom she had her first daughter in 1932, when Piaf was 17 years old; however, the minor died two years after becoming ill with meningitis. After the death of the little girl, the singer continued to demonstrate her musical talent on the streets.
Her perseverance allowed her to be discovered in 1935 by Louis Leplée, the manager of a French cabaret. The man hired her and gave her a stage name to work at the place, which became her formal stage name years later: “La Môme Piaf”, translated into Spanish as “La Niña Piaf.”
Start of his artistic career
Working in the cabaret served Édith Piaf as a springboard for her to make her debut in the theater that same year. Also, a year after starting working at the cabaret, Piaf was discovered by Nissim Jacques, known as Jacques Canetti, who owned the record company Polydor.
The young singer signed a contract with Canetti’s record label and recorded her first album in 1936, which was titled Los Niños de la Campana, or Les Mômes de la cloche . The album was a resounding success in the society of the time, which made her become one of the most famous emerging singers of the time.
Despite this, the same year that he recorded the album, Louis Leplée was assassinated. It is presumed that the event put Piaf in the public arena by being singled out as part of the scandal.
The woman was questioned by the police in the investigation of the case, which put her career in jeopardy; However, shortly thereafter, French composer Raymond Asso helped her get back on her artistic path and leave public scandals behind.
Years after the conflict, Piaf began to perform in prestigious venues in Paris, having composers like Marguerite Monnot and Michel Emer write songs just for her.
Music and theater
In 1936, the singer made her debut in one of the most important theaters in Paris and there are references that, presumably, Asso convinced the director of the venue. Her presentation was successful and her career took a big step forward.
That same year he participated in El Chico , better known as La Garçonne : his first film, which was in charge of the French director, screenwriter and actor Jean de Limur.
Some presume that four years later, in 1940, Piaf met actor Paul Meurisse, with whom it is presumed that she had a romantic relationship.
That year, the singer triumphed in the Parisian showroom “Bobino” thanks to a song written for her and Meurisse, by Jean Cocteau, which bore the name of Le Bel Indiférent, or Bel Indifferent as it is known in Spanish. .
According to various sources of information, this piece allowed Piaf to demonstrate his talent for performing the dramatic arts.
In 1941 he acted alongside Meurisse in the film Montmartre-sur-Seine , directed by Georges Lacombe. During the making of the feature film, Édith Piaf met Henri Contet, a lyricist, film critic and actor who became one of the singer’s main composers.
Second World War
During the war period , Piaf permanently abandoned her stage name to become Édith Piaf. It is presumed that at that time she gave concerts in which she performed songs that contained a double meaning to make a call to resist the Nazi invasion.
Furthermore, it is presumed that the French singer became a faithful defender of Jewish artists who were persecuted by the German authorities.
According to historical records of the time, in 1944, when Piaf was approximately 29 years old, he performed at the Mouline Rouge. This was one of the most famous cabarets in Paris. There it is presumed that she met the Italian-French actor Yves Montand, with whom she fell in love.
Piaf introduced the singer to renowned people from the show; moreover, it is presumed that she took charge of Montand’s career to the point that Henri Contet came to write songs for her.
In 1945 Édith Piaf herself wrote one of the songs that had the most international recognition: La vie en rose , known in Spanish as La vida en rosa . It is presumed that the theme was not taken into account at first and the singer took more than a year to interpret it.
A year later, in 1946, Montand and Piaf participated in the film Étoile sans lumière , also known as Star without light , on whose tour the couple separated.
That same year the artist met the group Compagnons de la Chanson ( Companions of the song ), with whom she performed Les Trois Cloches ( The three bells ), a piece that was a great success in her country.
In 1948, when the artist was touring New York, she met a renowned French boxer of the time named Marcel Cerdan.
Both fell in love with each other, but a year later, on October 28, 1949, the athlete was traveling to meet Piaf when he suffered a plane crash that caused his death.
The event motivated the interpreter to write together with Marguerite Monnot one of her most famous songs: L’Hymne à l’amour , known in Spanish as El Himno del amor.
The tragic history of the singer, both from her childhood and from her love life, gave a dramatic style to the expressiveness of her voice, so she was able to move her listeners with her interpretations of songs that were frequently about the loss and love.
In 1951, two years after the boxer’s death, Édith Piaf met the French singer-songwriter Charles Aznavour, who, in addition to writing songs like Plus bleu qui vos yeux ( More blue than your eyes ) or Jezabel, also became his assistant, secretary and confident.
Drugs and marriage
The same year that the singer met Aznavour, she suffered two traffic accidents. Apparently, the second accident left her severely injured and in pain, requiring that she be administered a dose of morphine; a few days later she had become addicted to the pain reliever.
It is also known that she was involved in alcohol and drug addictions. Despite the depression caused by the loss of Cerdan, the French woman soon after met the French singer Jacques Pills, whom she allegedly married in July 1952 in a church in New York.
In 1953, as a result of her addictions, she began a rehabilitation process to detoxify herself from the narcotics she used and that little by little destroyed her.
Piaf and Pills divorced in 1956, four years after they were married. That same year, Piaf became an important figure in music hall shows; She managed to reduce alcohol consumption considerably, but her health was already in an advanced state of deterioration as a result of her addiction.
Moustaki and Sarapo
In 1958 she met the singer-songwriter and actor Georges Moustaki, with whom she began a relationship. A few months later, Piaf suffered a traffic accident with her new love that worsened her health.
In 1959 the singer fainted while on stage in New York, for which she underwent emergency surgery. Shortly after Moustaki, he left her.
For the next two years Piaf kept writing songs with the help of other composers; However, in 1961 he once again rose to the stage of El Olimpia, a theater hall in Paris, faced with the need to cover his financial problems.
That same year she met the last man she loved: Theophanis Lamboukas, a French singer and actor nicknamed “Sarapo” by the singer. In October 1962, the two celebrities got married.
His deteriorating state of health did not prevent him from continuing to triumph in the world of music for a couple of years, thanks to the good state of his voice.
Édith Piaf spent her last months of life in France. A liver cancer caused his death at 47 years of age, on October 10, 1963 in Plascassier, a Gallic commune located in the French town of Grase.
However, it is also believed that the French singer may have died of an aneurysm as a result of liver failure, a disease that is commonly caused by excessive drugs and alcohol.
Thousands of people attended the funeral services for Édith Piaf, who was buried in the Père Lachaise cemetery, located in Paris.
Life in Pink
Considered by some to be Édith Piaf’s flagship song and an anthem of French musical history, Life in Pink was written by the singer in 1945.
The melody was composed by Louis Gugliemi, better known as Louiguy; Marguerite Monnot is also presumed to have participated in the song’s elaboration.
At first the value of the piece was not taken into account by the interpreter’s colleagues and her team; However, more than a year after the song was written it had an important impact on the society of the time.
Published in 1957, La multitud , better known as La Foule , was a song initially written by Argentine composer Ángel Cabral in 1936 and performed by numerous artists internationally.
The piece was originally called Let no one know my suffering . It is presumed that when Édith Piaf heard the song, she decided to take the melody to France and that, once there, another author changed the lyrics and the title of the piece to keep the instrumental part; at which point it was renamed The Crowd .
Composed by Georges Moustaki and set to music by Marguerite Monnot, this song was recorded in 1959. It is said that it was inspired by the singer’s childhood while she lived in her grandmother’s brothel. Milord became one of the most significant musical pieces of the mid-20th century in Europe.
No, I do not regret anything
Better known by its French name, “ Non, je ne regrette rien ” is one of the most famous songs performed by Piaf.
The song was performed in 1960 by the singer when two songwriters offered her the piece for her to sing. This song was so successful that it was performed and used by many artists around the world.
- Édith Piaf, Portal Musique, (2008) Taken from musique.rfi.fr
- Édith Piaf, French Wikipedia, (nd). Taken from wikipedia.org
- Édith Piaf, Portal Linternaute, (nd). Taken from lanternute.com
- Édith Piaf, English Wikipedia, (nd). Taken from org
- Édith Piaf, Portal Encyclopedia Britannica, (2018). Taken from britannica.com
- Édith Piaf Biography, Portal Biography, (nd). Taken from biography.com
- Nine songs for which we still remember Édith Piaf, El País de España newspaper portal, (2015). Taken from elpais.com