Piaf, Edith (pēäfˈ) [key], 1915–63, French cabaret singer, born as Edith Giovanna Gassion. She began to sing at 15 in cafés and on the streets of Paris and was soon engaged to sing in a cabaret. Fame quickly followed her appearances in nightclubs all over Europe and America. Piaf appeared in several movies, starring in Le Bel Indifférent (1940), originally a play written for her by Jean Cocteau. Her highly emotional and powerful voice was enormously expressive, and she wrote many of her own songs. Her performance of the songs Non, je ne regrette rien [I Regret Nothing] and Milord were especially cherished by international audiences.
See her memoirs, Au bal de la chance (1958, tr. 1965); biographies by S. Berteaut, her half-sister (1972), and by C. Burke (2011).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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