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Edith Piaf: Biography Review

Introduction

Edith Piaf was born on 19th December 1915 and died at the age of 47 in 1963. He was regarded as France most famous musician of all time. Though she was a female artist, her music attracted attention from all genders and generation. She specialized in playing ballad music which was intended to reflect her previous life in the street. Since she launched her career in music, she was able to write so many songs that were appreciated not only in France but also gained recognition in other parts of the world. Some of her most famous hits include “La vie en rose” released in 1946, “Milord” released in 1959, “Non je ne regrette rien” released in 1960 among many others1. Despite her poor upbringing and poor family background, she managed to climb up the ladder and became one of the world renowned musicians of all time. Therefore, what were the main contributory factors that led to her success in the music industry? This essay will analyze the biography of Edith Piaf in brief and discuss some of the factors that led her success in music. Emphasize will be placed on the issue of gender and how it spearheaded her success.

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Edith’ early life

Edith was born on 19 December 1915 to Annetta Giovanna Maillard and Louis-Alphonse Gassion in Belleville, Paris. Her mother was a café singer while her father was a street acrobat. Due to the nature of the job her parents were doing, it became difficult for them to raise her up and as a result, she lived with her maternal grandmother for a short while before being transferred to Alphonse’s mother. Alphonse’s mother ran a brothel and while Edith lived with her, the prostitutes in the brothel were the main people who served the job of baby sitting Edith.

This was not a conducive environment to bring up a child morally and therefore, Edith learnt life the hard way. At the age of seven, Edith suffered from keratitis a type of eye disease that made her almost blind2. However, the prostitutes raised money to finance her treatment and she miraculous recovered from the temporary blindness. At the age of 14, she decided to join her father in the street and unlike her father who practiced acrobat; she joined the singing industry with her first debut in music being in France. As she developed her career in music, she separated from his father and decided to go her own way. Consequently, she hired a room in Paris and began performing in the street of Paris and its suburbs.

Edith fell in love at the age of 16 to Louis Dupont a delivery boy and gave birth to her first child at the age of 17. However, the child died of meningitis under the care of Dupont who was solely responsible for baby sitting the child as Edith went on performing in the streets. Her second boyfriend was Albert whose career was being a pimp and as a result, he collected money from Edith every time she could perform in exchange for keeping her out of his prostitution business. She later separated from Albert after her friend Nadia committed suicide in order to avoid practicing prostitution as Albert required.

Gender Contribution towards Edith’s success

It should be noted that gender played some role towards Edith’s success. The music she played was generally dominated by the male artists but she decided to discover the woman in herself by performing the male dominated career. She performed very well that she caught the attention of many and this made her very famous. Her music also captured the female gender teaching them on issues of love and how to conduct themselves as women. A good example is the “La Vie en Rose” song in which she addressed the young women on how to conduct them selves when singing3. The song advised the young women how to hold hands and also how to move their arms while singing. As a female artist she was able to command the stage with very expressive manners that attracted many to watch her music. She invested in the stage expressions as part of drawing crowds to her music. She managed to express the truth in her music in a manner that was very natural. According to many historians, Edith was able to succeed in music as a female artist because of her stage appearance mainly her dressing, a glass of wine and also the manner in which she moved her arms and hands. Her skills of presenting her music were admired by many.

Her music came to be admired by many female artists who were now working on their arts, inspirations and also craftsmanship in order to get audience from the media. The female artists are shaped by their work, their image and also public personality. Being a female artist really favored her career as a great entertainer especially in the night clubs where her music was greatly focused. Her gender also allowed her to connect with many people through her friendly nature. This enabled her to travel to other countries to perform her music especially in the US and later her music became international hits. Being a female artist with a great voice her music was liked by many funs. Edith had taken the advantage of the female gender as a source of power. The female gender in history is regarded as decorative and pleasing to the eye4. It is always a defensive weapon for most women and especially those who know how to express themselves. Edith’s music especially in matters of love was well expressed in her music, her voice and also the body language. In those days, sex and recording of music was very crucial. Good body expression was a marketing tool and this was Edith’s strength as a female artist.

The male artist could not be compared to her expression and these favored her music greatly. Her personality was a symbol of lifestyle for many of her funs. The female gender is able to master the needs of the audience and deliver it as it is demanded. This way the women are able to entertain their audience using their music and this led to the success of Edith. The creative role of women in music cannot be compared to the male gender. The body expression of women is especially a great role of selling music since they are able to express themselves in a number of ways especially using fashion and body language besides having a very attractive voice5. However it is important to note the success of women in music has not been possible without the male gender influence. Edith was taught how to express herself in music by her male teacher.

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It is with no doubt that her teacher was able to instill in her those qualities that are easily expressed by women and this influenced her music a lot. The expression of passion by the female artist has great influence in music. Women are better positioned to express their feelings and emotions. They are also able to address their problems and also the problems that are faced by the women in the society. For example Edith was able to address the issues of gay people within the society. She blamed the women for contributing towards men being gay by neglecting them. The female artists therefore have strong messages in their songs and this greatly influenced Edith music. Having grown in an environment of prostitute women, Edith was very concerned about the problems of women in the society and this was well expressed in her music.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the female gender is a symbol of power in music. It addresses many issues within the society. Women are able to sell and succeed in music owing to their gender. Being a female artist one is able to express themselves using their body language and also emotions to bring out the meaning of the message in their songs. Most female artists have great voices and this attracts a lot of audience. The way one presents him/herself is also another consideration in music. The dressing code in the female artists attracts a lot of people to the music. This can be traced back to Edith music and how she dressed when she was performing. Looking at the life of Edith and her success in music, women can do very well in the traditionally male dominated field of music. Women will always be appreciated as good performers in music mainly because of their beauty, sweet voices and body expression6. Women who take advantage of these attributes always succeed in music as great performers.

References

Alexis Andrews, 2008. Edith Piaf records showcase the Little Sparrow’s Legacy. Sage publications, p8-31.

Bernstein, Jane, 2003. Women’s voices Across Musical Worlds. University Press of New England, p23-42.

Edith Piaf, 1997. Edith Piaf Song Collection. Hal Leonard Corporation, p8-17.

Margaret Crosland, 2007. A Cry from the Heart: The Biography of Edith Piaf.Arcadia Books publishers, p16-28.

Neuls-Bates, Carol, 1982. Women in Music: An Anthology of Source Readings from the middle Ages to the Present. New York: Harper and Rowp 14-67.

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Footnotes

  1. Piaf Edith, 1997. Edith Piaf Song Collection. Hal Leonard Corporation, p8-17.
  2. Crosland Margaret, 2007. A Cry from the Heart: The Biography of Edith Piaf.Arcadia Books publishers, p16-28.
  3. Piaf Edith, 1997. Edith Piaf Song Collection. Hal Leonard Corporation, p8-17.
  4. Jane Bernstein, 2003. Women’s voices Across Musical Worlds. University Press of New England, p23-42.
  5. Carol Neuls-Bates, 1982. Women in Music: An Anthology of Source Readings from the middle Ages to the Present. New York: Harper and Rowp 14-67.
  6. Andrews, Alexis 2008. Edith Piaf records showcase the Little Sparrow’s Legacy. Sage publications, p8-31.

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