Would you like to listen to music by Miles Davis?Play
Born December 19, in Paris, France.
Grandmother supposedly runs a brothel and raises young Edith who begins losing her sight at age three.
Legend has it prostitutes pool their money to save her sight.
After years apart, Edith begins to sing with her father — a street acrobat.
Born May 26, in Alton, Illinois.
Dad is a dentist. Mom is a (secret) blues pianist.
Nightclub owner discovers her and invents nickname ‘The Little Sparrow’ (she was 4’8”).
Debuts at prestigious ABC cabaret.
Begins trumpet lessons at the age of 13.
Becomes a student at the Juilliard School of Music.
Rumors fly that she worked for the French resistance during the war.
Drops out of school and soon joins Charlie Parker’s quintet.
Writes lyrics to “La Vie en Rose.”
Appears on The Ed Sullivan Show the first of eight times.
Records Birth of the Cool.
Visits Paris for the first time. Loves it. The feeling is mutual.
Recruits his first star-studded quintet.
First of two appearances at Carnegie Hall.
Records Kind of Blue.
Premieres “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien” at the Olympia Music Hall.
Hires young pianist Herbie Hancock.
Records her last song, “L’Homme de Berlin.”
Dies at the age of 47 and is buried at Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.
Goes “electric.” Influenced by the likes of James Brown and Jimi Hendrix.
Becomes a Chevalier in the French Legion of Honor. Dies later that year in Santa Monica, CA.
Like music, stamps speak an international language — an idea fully expressed when two nations agree to a joint issue. The U.S. Postal Service and La Poste, the French postal administration, are proud to present two stamps that cross borders, cultures, and generations — Edith Piaf and Miles Davis.
When La Poste first approached the Postal Service about a collaboration, the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee endorsed the idea — it had been more than twenty years since the last joint issue with France. Many shared cultural ideas and subjects were discussed: Mardi Gras, Art Deco, and Pierre L’Enfant among them.
Then Stamp Services staff became aware of a significant exhibit in Paris on Miles Davis, the American jazz trumpeter who performed frequently in France. In fact, in 1991, Davis was made a Chevalier in the French Legion of Honor, roughly equivalent to being knighted. What would make a better joint issue than a stamp celebrating this genius of jazz, a particular favorite in France?
Only one thing: two stamp subjects — an American musician beloved in France paired with an iconic French singer who developed a huge following in the United States. The waif-like Edith Piaf — who moved audiences to tears with her emotional ballads — toured the U.S ten times, appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show eight times, and sang twice at Carnegie Hall.
The lean, kinetic Davis and the tiny, melancholy Piaf could not have been more different physically. But their ability to speak the same international language — to communicate intensity of feeling through music — makes them a perfect pair of stamps.