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Culture

New York pays tribute to French star Edith Piaf

Video by Emmanuel SAINT-MARTIN

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-09-20

Two concerts featuring prominent Francophone and Anglophone singers will pay tribute to French chanteuse Edith Piaf in New York this week. The events will mark the 50th anniversary of Piaf’s death, and honour her ties to the Big Apple.

She may not make headlines like Miley Cyrus, but famous French chanteuse Edith Piaf will reclaim the spotlight this week in New York.

For the first time, French music festival “Les Francofolies” is coming state-side for two evening events in the Big Apple, both honouring Piaf.

One event, to take place on Thursday, September 19, at the Beacon Theatre will feature roughly twenty Francophone and Anglophone artists – including Harry Connick Jr., Christophe Willem, Olivia Ruiz and Nolwenn Leroy – in a tribute to the singer, who rose to stardom in the 1940s and died in 1963.

The other event will be a concert given by raspy-voiced French singer Patricia Kaas at The Town Hall (a performance space), who launched her “Kaas Sings Piaf” world tour last year.

Piaf and New York, a love story

Piaf was known to have strong ties to New York. She attended an English-language programme at Columbia University in 1947 and soon after did a well-reviewed four-month singing gig at Manhattan cabaret the Versailles. Later in her career, she returned to the venue for several performances.

It was in New York that Piaf met her lifelong friend, German-born actress Marlene Dietrich, and the man she considered the love of her life: French boxer Marcel Cerdan, who died in a plane accident in 1949, while travelling to New York to join Piaf.

Piaf performed at the Versailles that very night, refusing to cancel despite the tragic news.

Three years later, Piaf married French singer Jacques Pills at New York’s French church, Saint Vincent de Paul, in the neighbourhood of Chelsea.

The marriage only lasted a few months, but Piaf’s relationship with the city proved more durable. By the end of the 50s, Piaf was a star in the US, and performed several times at New York’s prestigious Carnegie Hall.

It was also in New York that Piaf’s declining health started to become evident, as she collapsed on stage mid-performance on several occasions.

The two concerts in New York this week are part of a series of celebrations, books and documentaries on both sides of the Atlantic to mark the 50th anniversary of Piaf’s death.

America’s passion for Piaf was revived when Olivier Dahan’s biopic “La Vie en Rose” (“La Mome”, in French) was released in the US in 2007. Marion Cotillard won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance in the lead role.

 

Date created : 2013-09-19

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