Edith Piaf Project

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  • Topic: Édith Piaf, Edith Cavell, Paris
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French music project

Édith Piaf

Birth name Édith Giovanna Gassion
Also known as La Mome Piaf
Born 19 December 1915
Died 11 october 1963 (aged 47)
Genres cabaret, torch songs, chanson

Early life
Much of Piaf's life is a big mystery. She was born Édith Giovanna Gassion in Belleville, Paris. Her birth certificate has the Hôpital Tenon, the hospital for the 20th arrondissement of which Belleville is part. She was named Edith after the World War I British nurse Edith Cavell, who was executed for helping French soldiers escape from German captivity. Piaf the same for "sparrow"—was a nickname she would receive 20 years later. Her mother, Annetta Giovanna Maillard (1895–1945), was of French descent on her father's side and of Italian origin on her mother's.She worked as a café singer under the name Line Marsa. Louis-Alphonse Gassion (1881–1944), Édith's father, was a Norman street acrobat with a past in the theatre. Édith's parents soon abandoned her, and she lived for a short time with her grandmother, Emma (Aïcha) Saïd ben Mohammed (1876–1930). Before he enlisted with the French Army in 1916 to fight in World War I, her father took her to his mother, who ran a brothel in Normandy. There,they helped look after Piaf. From the age of three to seven, Piaf was went blind as a result of keratitis. She recovered her sight after her grandmother's workers pooled money to send her on a pilgrimage honoring Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, which resulted in a miraculous healing.

In 1929, at 14, she joined her father in his acrobatic street performances all over France, where she first sang in public. She took a room at Grand Hôtel de Clermont (18 rue Veron, Paris 18ème) and separated from him, going her own way as a street singer in Pigalle, Ménilmontant, and the Paris suburbs. She joined her friend Simone Berteaut and the two became lifelong partners in...
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