Édith Piaf (US: /piːˈɑːf/, UK: /ˈpiːæf/; French: [eˈdit pjaf]; 19 December 1915 – 11 October 1963), born Édith Giovanna Gassion, was a French singer and cultural icon who became widely regarded as France's national popular singer, as well as being one of France's greatest international stars. Her singing reflected her life, with her specialty being ballads. Among her songs are "La Vie en rose" (1946), "Non, je ne regrette rien" (1960), "Hymne à l'amour" (1949), "Milord" (1959), "La Foule" (1957), "l'Accordéoniste" (1955), and "Padam... Padam..." (1951).
Despite numerous biographies, much of Piaf's life is shrouded in mystery. She was born Édith Giovanna Gassion in Belleville, Paris. Legend has it that she was born on the pavement of Rue de Belleville 72, but her birth certificate cites the Hôpital Tenon, the hospital for the 20th arrondissement of which Belleville is part.
She was named Édith after the World War I British nurse Edith Cavell, who was executed for helping French soldiers escape from German captivity. Piaf—an argot colloquialism for "sparrow"—was a nickname she would receive 20 years later.
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