Remembering Piaf... at the Petworth Festival

Eve Loiseau draws on her own French heritage to recreate the late, great Edith Piaf for the Petworth Festival (Leconfield Hall, Market Square, Petworth, Saturday, July 14, 7.45pm).

Piaf ’s life was the stuff of legend, from her dramatic rise from Paris street urchin to star of the worldwide stage.

It’s a life Eve is delighted to tap into: “My family is half French. My mother and her family were French, and they were all singers in France. We grew up very much with the French chanson in our family. When we were younger, we would sit around the table and sing. I learnt lots of Piaf’s songs without realising it.

“I was fascinated by her songs and I would sing them because they were lovely tunes. I wanted to learn La Vie En Rose when I was about 12. My mother wrote out the words for me. And then Milord when I was about 14. My first performance was when I was about 16 at school.

“Year by year I have been adding the songs. It has always been there for me, and then about 15 years ago I was asked to do a little show about Piaf. It was really the start of the show that I have now. It was about eight songs. I learnt the songs, and I researched her life – and it had a huge impact, beyond my comprehension.

“Because I was training to be a classical singer, Piaf was just in the background for me and I think it was in about 2000 that I did the show, and I have been doing it now for ten years or more, adding more songs to my repertoire.

“I really really studied her, got hold of the DVDs, read the books and became very very engaged with the songs. We had the wonderful play for several years, and then there was the film (of Piaf’s life, La Vie En Rose), so what I was really looking to do was an interpretation of the songs and exploring the writers, really the untold story.”

And it’s quite some story. Eve feels it was the complexity and the difficulty of Piaf’s life which gave her the power she brought to the stage.

“She survived a horrific upbringing by two parents that were very volatile. It was not a very connected or grounded background. She ended up singing on the streets, supporting her father, singing and gathering the money. She was belting out the songs to be heard, this tiny little person, and so she had this incredible visceral quality, a survival act really, shouting out these songs to be heard. And so she honed her craft.

“Because her life was so broken and so fragmented, she was desperately in search of love and stability, and that comes through in the way she sings…”

Tickets on 01798 344576.