La Vie En Rose | 2007
Perhaps finding her nearest American analogues in figures such as Judy Garland and Billie Holiday, the tragic story of the world-famous chanteuse, Edith Piaf, is worthy of a 19th Century novel by Zola or Balzac. From the mean streets of the Belleville district of Paris to the dazzling limelight of New York's most famous concert halls, Piaf's life was a constant battle to sing and survive, to live and love. Born into abject poverty, surrounded by street performers, hookers, and pimps, Piaf's magical voice made her a star on both sides of the Atlantic. Raised in her grandmother's brothel, Piaf was discovered in 1935 by nightclub owner Louis Leplée, who persuaded her to sing despite her extreme nervousness. This, combined with her diminutive height (4' 8"), inspired Leplée to give the singer the nickname that would stay with her the rest of her life, La Môme Piaf. Piaf's passionate romances and friendships with some of the greatest names of the era--Charlie Chaplin, Jean Cocteau, Yves Montand, and Marlene Deitrich, who famously remarked that Piaf's voice is "the soul of Paris"--made her a household name as much as her unforgettable renditions of the songs she made famous, including "Hymne à l'amour" (1949), "Milord" (1959), and "Non, je ne regrette rien" (1960). Piaf's signature song "La Vie en Rose" (1946) is a love song which translates into English as "The Life in Pink." But in her audacious attempt to tame her tragic destiny, the Little Sparrow flew so high that she could not fail to burn her wings. The great love of Piaf's life, Middleweight boxing champion Marcel Cerdan, died in a plane crash in 1949. Piaf developed a serious morphine addiction following a car accident in 1951, and eventually succumbed to cancer in 1963, dying at the untimely age of forty-seven. Piaf remains, however, one of France's immortal icons, her voice one of the indelible signatures of the 20th Century.