“The most thrilling rendition of ‘La Vie en Rose’ this side of Edith Piaf…snapping emotional electricity….a cry of the kind of grand, all-or-nothing passion that has all but disappeared from popular music.”
Stephen Holden, The New York Times
“Leaning on the tragic myth does the disservice of thinning the texture of a life…causing us to distort the legend of the artist at the expense of their artistry.” — No Regrets: The Life of Édith Piaf, Carolyn Burke
If you simply say her name – Piaf – the first words that come to mind for most who know of her legendary life are tragique!…drugs, death, plane crashes, car crashes, affairs, addiction…arthritis! Her life was public domain, everyday news, and people couldn’t get enough. But the real source of all this heightened “fake news” was Piaf herself, who had total disdain for the ordinary (as if there was anything ordinary in the life of Édith Piaf!). Let us just say, she had a great habit of embellishing the truth. Yes, she experienced everything one can experience, but it was the life she wanted. It may have been filled with hectic drama, but it was fueled by her boundless joie de vivre. Her
credo, the most important thing in life is a resilient heart. Ahhhh yes, a resilient heart. The people who knew her, her closest friends, spoke of her warmth, her gaiety, her continual laughter, her generosity and capacity for friendship, how she vibrated to the music, that her biggest love affair was with her audience.
Born in abject poverty, abandoned by her mother at birth, raised in a brothel run by her grandmother, blinded at the age of three (but eventually cured by a “miracle”), ultimately singing on every street corner of Paris for survival till she was “discovered,” at 20…and this was just the beginning! She grew to become the “rock star” of her time, a consummate artist delivering powerhouse performances that emanated from her raw, visceral need to connect through her music the era she was sharing with her audience.
“Sometimes if your feet are stuck in the mud – if you have feet of clay, but your head is in heaven – you get stretched, just like a violin string…and it’s that stretch that makes a beautiful sound.” —Street Singer, Drew Harris
Édith was surely “stretched” on her journey from Pigalle to Carnegie Hall, and she wants this “journey” passed on, right now. In an age when reality TV is saturating the minds of the young, seducing them to some notion of fame through the most superficial lens, the force that was Piaf, the challenges she faced and overcame to become a true artist and star, serve as a sobering, grounding example of the rigorous discipline, courage and vision it takes to do anything of importance extraordinarily well.
Why else are we here but to uniquely express ourselves in this world spinning so fast as to take our breath away? Listening to this force that was Piaf has encouraged me to connect to my own “resilient heart.” It is her wish it will do the same for you. She said, “My life is my song,” and so here are 14 chapters of Piaf’s life. Mes chers amis, please allow me to guide you through her music, and bring her brilliance to life once again in Piaf: No Regrets!
– Christine Andreas