“I owe so much to Madame Piaf!”: Mireille Mathieu covers the greatest hits of the singer of The Hymn to Love, who died 60 years ago, in a double album with symphony orchestra. “Singing Piaf always remains a great joy. This album is my way of eternally saying “Thank you, Madame Piaf!”, the “Demoiselle d’Avignon” tells AFP, compared to her debut at “La Môme Piaf”. “I owe him so much with this fairy tale that the public has offered me for all these years and that I could never have imagined,” continues the singer, 77 years old since July.
Mireille Mathieu lines up the superlatives about the deceased star: “the greatest singer in the world”, “unique”, “always in the hearts of the French”. “In my own way, I wanted to pay homage to him by covering the most emblematic songs from his repertoire,” she confides. Including Jezebel, which allowed him to win the telecrochet game Le Jeu de la Chance on November 21, 1965.
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“Being compared to this great lady was the greatest compliment for the beginner that I was. My only regret is never having met her,” adds the artist, revealed in 1964 by covering La Vie en rose during a singing competition in her hometown. Édith Piaf died a year earlier, on October 10, 1963.
“After The Game of Chance, my first manager, Johnny Stark, very quickly wanted me to be tailor-made to have my own repertoire. I was lucky to have extraordinary authors and composers like Francis Lai, Michel Legrand, Maurice Jarre, Eddy Marnay, Maurice Vidalin, Claude Lemesle, and so many others,” she remembers.
At home, Piaf's voice was everywhere. “As a child, I didn’t always understand the meaning of his songs. With dad, mom and my (thirteen) brothers and sisters, we were overwhelmed by this unique voice. It is thanks to her that French song is known throughout the world. In her double album tribute to Piaf, the singer also reveals L'Amour en robe noire, a new track that she composed. “During my vocalizations, every morning, I hum. From time to time, melodies come to me. “My sister Matite recorded me, we had the notes deciphered by a musician and Claude Lemesle wrote me magnificent lyrics describing the life of Édith Piaf and the public's love for this extraordinary woman.” We hear: “You grew up, fragile sparrow/In Normandy and Bellevillle/And in the courtyards and in the streets/Vibrated your voice of a lost child.”
Mireille Mathieu will celebrate her 60th career in 2025 with a series of concerts at L'Olympia, eleven years after her last shows in France. Regularly in demand abroad, notably in Germany and Eastern countries, the singer, who has sold 200 million records since her debut according to her label, will also perform in Avignon, Marseille, Montpellier, Nantes, Lyon, Strasbourg, Brussels, Lausanne... Previously, next year, she will give a series of concerts in Canada. “It all started for me in France. I don't forget it. I am very happy to also be the ambassador of my country abroad. Singing is my life!”, she concludes.