“We have no control over our lives. Courage is to walk your path to the end.” The ups and downs of singer and film actress Edith Piaf
“I did not know anyone else who did not protect her soul like that. She did not spend it – she was a spendthrift, as if throwing gold through the window,” said her close friend, poet Jean Cocteau, on the day of the death of the world-famous French singer and film actress Edith Piaf.
The life path of the Frenchwoman Piaf was unusually eventful, complex and short. She lived only 47 years, was an example of a strong spirit, but at the same time a vulnerable person.
With an incredible talent, a booming and dramatic voice, the girl who sang on the street forever inscribed her name in the tablets of history.
Edith Giovanna Gassion’s childhood was a struggle for survival – from being raised by a negligent grandmother, who instead of milk slipped diluted wine to her granddaughter so that she would not bother her, and ending with living in a brothel, which was related to her other relative.
Her name began to acquire legends during her lifetime. They even said that the future chansonnier was born on the night of December 19, 1915 right on the sidewalk of one of the Parisian streets. True or not, but before the age of six, the girl was practically blind – the relatives did not see the developed keratitis in the child.
The sick child was taken “to holy places” – to the relics of St. Teresa in Lisieux, where thousands of pilgrims from all over France gather annually. Surprisingly, exactly after six days the child began to see. And the first thing the girl saw was the piano keys. The romantic poet Jean Cocteau would later call these keys “the eyes of a blind man who has seen the light.”
For me, there is nothing more important in life than love and my songs, but my songs are also love
She wanted to go to school, like all children, but other parents did not want to see a girl living in a brothel next to their offspring. Therefore, I had to part with the thought of studying. But from the moment of her amazing healing, Edith Piaf always wore a medallion with the image of her intercessor Saint Teresa around her neck and believed that life would still be favorable to her.
The father, an acrobat who returned from the war, took his daughter to Paris, where they began to perform in tandem. He showed acrobatic stunts in city squares, and 9-year-old Edith sang simple songs. “She was born like a sparrow, she lived like a sparrow, she will die like a sparrow!” the future star sang with rapture.
When she was taken to the Juan-les-Pins cabaret, the girl was in seventh heaven with happiness – the street was finished forever.
She managed to fall in love, give birth and lose her daughter, but success and fame have not found her yet. Until the moment when Louis Leple, the owner of the Zhernis cabaret on the Champs Elysées, once saw the ridiculously painted 20-year-old singer with an amazing voice. Without hesitating for a second, he invited Edith to perform in his program.
I don’t sing for everybody – I sing for everyone
Today it is called production work – the owner of Zhernis not only provided the singer with a stable income, he also taught her to choose songs, emphasize their essence with the help of facial expressions and gestures, direct them, keep the attention of the public on herself, and also dress and behave on stage .
But most importantly, he came up with a creative pseudonym for her, Edith Piaf, the second part of which is translated from French slang as “sparrow”. On the posters, her name was indicated as Baby Piaf, and the first performance was dizzyingly successful.
A new round of life – and a new patron. The poet Raymond Asso helped the singer find her way to her recognizable style and manner of singing, which predetermined the emergence of “The Great Edith Piaf”. He thought over her style to the smallest detail, taught her to write branded phrases on postcards to fans: “As a token of great sympathy”, “From the bottom of my heart”. He was the author of those legendary songs “Paris – the Mediterranean”, “Pennant for the Legion”, “She lived in Pigalle Street”, and also “My Legionnaire”.
During World War II, Edith Piaf toured Europe, willingly speaking to soldiers. She was loved on both sides of the front, and the singer took advantage of this. In Germany in 1944, she demanded that all soldiers be brought to the concert – and prisoners of war too. Blinded by her talent, the Nazis could not argue with the great singer. After the concerts, she managed to pass letters and news to fellow prisoners of war, at the risk of being convicted of espionage.
Artists and the public should not meet. After the curtain falls, the actor should disappear as if by magic
“We have no control over our lives. Courage is to walk your path to the end,” she said.
Piaf willingly took pictures and begged for group pictures with captured French soldiers. And on her next trip to the camps, she carried fake documents and certificates with pasted photos of prisoners in a suitcase. They say that Edith Piaf visited eleven camps in this way and saved at least a hundred people.
The song “Non, je ne regrette rien” is an example of the highest culture of vocals, and the sensual voice of the performer is called the property of France. Surprisingly, at first Edith Piaf strongly rejected this masterpiece “No, I do not regret anything,” written in 1956 by Charles Dumont and Michel Walker.
She gave up only four years later, when the authors tricked her into her house and literally forced her to listen to a few lines. Edith Piaf became interested, set to work and very soon managed to breathe so much life and passion into this strong text that the audience wept and was speechless as soon as they heard her excellent performance. Today and for all time, this composition will remain the visiting card of the Great Edith Piaf.