By Dale Boyd
From a life immersed in tragedy, jazz singer Edie DaPonte is looking to bring forth the beauty personified by famed French singer Édith Piaf.
As a multi-lingual singer, performing songs in French, Portuguese, Spanish and Italian, DaPonte noticed a swell of interest following performances of one of Piaf’s famed songs.
“When I would sing La Vie en Rose, I could see the audience, people would start crying. After the show they would say ‘do you do more Piaf?’” DaPonte said.
“There’s this sort of following of people who know her music that are surprised when they hear someone perform it.”
DaPonte found “for some reason this music resonates with people, even if they don’t understand the words.”
And so, she set out to explore the life of France’s chanteuse, born between World Wars and abandoned at birth by her mother.
Delving deep into the singer’s history DaPonte studied Piaf, getting to know her intimately, reaching through history, and hiring a French vocal coach.
“There is a lot of sadness in her story, but I found a lot of joy when I was reading about her too. My focus in the show is to talk about all the really positive points in her life, and the incredible impact that one person can have in the world,” DaPonte said.
She also visited Piaf’s old neighbourhoods in Paris where the remaining historic architecture transported her to the past.
“You really can step back in time when you go to the old neighbourhoods. I just feel like the older I get the more intrigued I am with history and where we all come from,” DaPonte said.
“She was the most famous international singer during her time, but she is also so much like all of us. Tragedy, triumph, just really determined. I think we can all learn a lot from her.”
Immersing herself in the art and literature of the time, DaPonte watched all of the footage available featuring Piaf, though there is not much with the singer born in 1915, to inform her performance.
“It was a lot of passion for me because once you start learning about someone and reading about them, you start to have dreams and youthink about the person,” DaPonte said.
DaPonte will take to the Venables Theatre stage with “amazing musicians” who will “blow your socks off,” she said, including one man who plays accordion, guitar and a “surprise instrument,” as well.
“The whole audience, their jaws just drop, but I can’t tell you what (the instrument) is because it is a surprise,” DaPonte said with a laugh.
Under Paris Skies starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Frank Venables Theatre on Saturday, Sept. 14. Tickets are available at the theatre or at venablestheatre.ca.