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Music: Edith Piaf

A singer who became widely regarded as France's national diva, as well as being one of France's greatest international stars of the 20th century. She was born Édith Giovanna Gassion in 1915. She sang in the streets of Paris as a teen and was discovered in Pigalle by nightclub owner Louis Leplée, who persuaded her to sing in his cabaret on the Champs-Elysées. She then rose to national stardom in the late 1930's and to international stardom after World War 2. She was nicknamed "La Môme Piaf" (meaning "The Waif Sparrow" or "The Little Sparrow" in Parisian slang), hence her stage name. She sang mostly about love, and she always wore a Little Black Dress on stage.

Some parts of her early life were heavily romanticized if not purely invented, but otherwise her personal life was characteristically dramatic. From the age of 3 to 7, she was allegedly blind as a result of keratitis. Her one and only daughter died at age 2 in 1935. She was watched by the police as a suspect after the murder of her first manager, but later cleared. Her lover Marcel Cerdan (the greatest French boxing champion) died in a plane crash in 1949. She was involved in three serious car crashes after 1951, leading to morphine and alcohol addictions and rheumatoid arthritis. Said addictions and illness weakened her, made her look older than she was and ultimately caused her death on October 10, 1963 at age 47.

She had high-profile affairs with many of her male associates and some of the biggest celebrities in France. She married twice : her first marriage in 1952, to singer Jacques Pills, lasted for four years (Marlene Dietrich was her wedding witness). Her 1962 marriage to Théo Sarapo, a French singer and performer of Greek origins 20 years her junior, lasted until her death. Théo Sarapo didn't survive her for long, he died from his wounds after a car crash in 1970 at age 34.

Some of her most famous songs :

  • "Mon Légionnaire" (1936)
  • "La Vie en Rose" (1946)
  • "L'Hymne à l'amour" (1949), dedicated to her then lover Marcel Cerdan (before he died)
  • "Padam ... Padam ..." (1951)
  • "L'Accordéoniste" (1955)
  • "Les Amants d'un jour" (1956)
  • "L'Homme à la moto" (1956), the French version of The Cheers' song "Black Denim Trousers and Motorcycle Boots"
  • "La Foule" (1957)
  • "Mon manège à moi" (1958)
  • "Milord" (1959)
  • "Non, je ne regrette rien" (1960)
  • "A quoi ça sert l'amour" (1962), her last major song, co-sung with Théo Sarapo

Jacques HigelinMusiciansScott Walker

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