Edith Piaf

Edith Piaf (December 19, 1915 - October 11, 1963) was one of France's most beloved singers, with much success shortly before and during World War II. Her music reflected her tragic life, with her specialty being the poignant ballad presented with a heartbreaking voice. The most famous songs performed by Piaf were La Vie en Rose (1946), Milord (1959), and Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien (1960).

She was born Édith Giovanna Gassion in Paris, France; her mother worked as a cafe singer and her father was a well-known travelling acrobat. Abandoned by her mother, she was raised by her paternal grandmother, who ran a brothel in Normandy. From age 3 to 7, she was blind. As part of Édith Piaf's legend, she allegedly recovered her sight after her grandmother's prostitutes went to a pilgrimage to Saint Thérèse de Lisieux. Later she lived for a while with her alcoholic father, whom she left by age 15 to become a street singer in Paris.

In 1935, Édith was discovered by the nightclub owner Louis Leplée whose club was frequented by the upper and lower classes alike. He convinced Édith to sing despite her extreme nervousness, and gave her the nickname that would stay with her for the rest of her life: La Mome Piaf (The Little Sparrow). From this she took her stage name. Her first record was produced in the same year. Shortly thereafter, Leplée was murdered and Piaf was accused of being an accessory; she was acquitted.

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