A Great French Singer
Édith Piaf was a famous singer from Paris. Her real name was Édith Gassion. She was born in 1915 and was named after the heroic English nurse Edith Cavell.
At the age of six years, Édith became blind. Her grandmother prayed to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux (in French, Sainte Thérèse de Lisieux), asking the saint to heal Édith. She took the young child to the shrine of Sainte Thérèse and during the visit her eyesight miraculously returned. For the rest of her life, Édith prayed every day to Sainte Thérèse and always kept the saint's image with her.
SainteThérèse, one of the patron saints of France.
Photos: Édith Piaf as a child.
Photo: Édith Piaf
Édith's father was an acrobat who performed on the streets of Paris. When she was twelve years old, Édith began to accompany him during his street performances by singing in front of cafés and bars. It is said that the first song that Édith performed was the French national anthem - la Marseillaise - because it was the only song she knew!
In 1935, a wealthy owner of a nightclub heard her singing on a Paris street corner and thought that she was far too talented to be singing on the streets. He offered her a contract to perform as a singer on the stage. This was the beginning of her professional career.
Édith was not very tall. She reminded her new boss of a little sparrow singing on the streets of Paris, so he gave her the stage name 'La Môme Piaf' meaning 'the little sparrow' in Parisian slang.
Usually, she would perform on stage wearing a black dress. This made her look even more like a sparrow!
Édith sang in Parisian nightclubs, including Le Moulin Rouge. Le Moulin Rouge (meaning: the Red Mill) is a very famous cabaret club in Paris. It was built in 1889. It is recognised by an imitation red windmill on its roof.
During the Second World War, Édith Piaf went to Germany to sing for the French soldiers in prisoner-of-war camps.
She also did some acting in the theatre and in films. In 1940 she starred in a play called Le Bel Indifférent - specially written for her by Jean Cocteau.
Édith Piaf is considered to be one of the greatest French singers of all time. Two of her most famous songs are - 'Je ne regrette rien' and 'La vie en rose'.
Édith Piaf died in 1963, aged forty-seven. She was laid to rest in Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris.
One of the most famous songs performed by Edith Piaf is Je ne regrette rien (I regret nothing).
To listen to the track and to sing along click on the link below: