Friday, March 1, 2013

Edith Piaf: The Little Sparrow


Edith was the daughter of Louis Gassion a street acrobat performer and Annetta Malliard a cafe singer. According to legend she was born on the pavement of Rue de Belleville 72, but her birth certificate lists a local hospital. Her parents abandoned her and after living with her grandmother for a short period of time, she was left at a Brothel and raised by prostitutes. She had her only child at age 17 named Marcelle who died at age 2. Her career started when Lois Leplee started her singing at his nightclub. This led to gigs that led to her first two records. A year later Leplee was murdered by some mobsters previously associated with Edith. This threatened her career. So she changed her stage name to Edith Piaf and began writing songs reflecting her earlier life on the streets. She made friendships with prominent composers and during the early 1940s became very successful as France's most popular performer. She toured South America, the United States and Europe becoming internationally known. In 1945 she wrote "La vie en rose which was voted a Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1998. Many of her songs are used today in major motion pictures. She died a early death at age 47 of liver cancer. "Every d*** fool thing you do in this life, you pay for" were her last words. This reflected her adventurous and wild lifestyle. 


What about your musician's sound do you like? How does the sound affect your mood? What does the sound remind you of?
     She has a beautiful voice full of emotion drawing her audience in. The songs have a simple quality which lulls the listener. As I listen I began to feel the pain she sings about. I experience the heartbreak or the joy of a new found love. Something about the passion heard in her voice reminds me of the modern singer Adele. It reminds me of times in my life when I experienced loss or want.
How does your musician's music reflect his or her time period? Was there anything happening in the world or music industry that influenced the music or sound? 
     She sang to french prisoners during World War II and helped many escape. Having experienced the war she sung about struggle and abandonment. After the war, she began songs about love and heartbreak reflecting what many were experiencing. People could relate to her topics. The popular french culture at the time was also reflected in her music. 

What does your musician sing about? What are some of the major themes or subjects of the songs? If they do not sing, how can you interpret the music or sound?
     Edith sings about the fabric of her life. "La Vie En Rose," which means the life in pink, is her most recognized song. It tells of the virtue of french living that the americans were obsessed with in the 60s. "Mon Dieu," which mean my God, is a plea to God to leave a loved one for just a few more days. Her music was simple yet dramatic. Most of her songs are about loss, love and sorrow reflecting the pain in her own life. 

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