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Interview: cast of La Vie En Rose

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of Edith Piaf’s birth, the La Vie en Rose concert sees seven talents take the stage to cover her songs. Benita Lee introduces them

La Benjamin
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La Benjamin

Edith Piaf suffered so many hardships, it’s hard to recount her life and not focus on those elements. Her voice was so powerful yet fluid, and the emotion cut right through. It would be a shame if her legacy becomes more about her tragedies.

I will be covering ‘My Man’ in a soulful, jazzy style. My first exposure to the song was Barbra Streisand’s version in Funny Girl. It’s actually quite a sad song – this woman loves her man even though he treats her horribly, so it will be interesting to interpret, because I would not be standing for that.

The thing about performing is, if you are true to yourself, you can’t help but connect with your audience. They feel you – so if it’s real, it’s going to work.

Linden Furnell
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Linden Furnell

Edith Piaf tends to be portrayed as the broken artist. There is a pain that permeates even the jolly numbers. It’s a little dark, and I like it. She represents the miracle that is taking something bad and making something beautiful out of it. That’s why I sing and write.

We want to maintain the punch in her music and lyrics, and perhaps make it more accessible to those who’ve not acquired the taste.

If I were an international singing star, I’d be flattered and honoured by each and every rendition of my material, whether it were brilliant and innovative or completely crap. Unless you’re a precious diva, anyone paying tribute to your art is a privilege.

Musical theatre is a wonderful, ridiculous genre that manages to reach us in the real world. Ultimately, we all get up on stage to tell stories, and magnify them to taste.

Robin Goh
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Robin Goh

To me, Edith Piaf is merely the music. Her life story, while fascinating, is not necessary for her art – at least not to us. If you didn’t know [about her life], you’ll still be moved, astounded and enthralled by her voice and her songs.

Edith was an actress, too. She plays a character in almost all her songs, and is almost never herself. She might put some of the emotion she feels at that moment into a song, but it’s still a performance. So to approach these songs as an actor, I think, is how it should be done.

If she were to hear me sing her songs, she might just get up and walk out. Or she might curse at us. Or she might give a standing ovation. She, I believe, was a creature of the moment. So there’s no telling how she would react to a bunch of non-French people singing her songs. How do I hope she will respond? I hope she will forgive us.

Sebastian Tan
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Sebastian Tan

This concert is something I’ve never done before, in terms of the types of songs. They convinced me by saying, ‘We don’t need you to imitate Edith Piaf – we just need you to reinterpret her songs.’ As a singer, I feel that is challenging, and I like reinterpreting songs because that is kind of what I do.

What appeals to me is not her tragedy, but her passion for and attitude towards life, which comes off in her songs a lot. There’s this other side of Edith Piaf, and to me, this is what the concert is all about.

There’s bound to be pressure. It’s uncharted territory. It’s not two songs that I’m familiar with. But I like the challenge of taking something that’s new, that I’ve never really tried before, and giving it my spin.

Rani Singam
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Rani Singam

I watched the movie La Vie en Rose, and what struck me most was Edith Piaf’s indomitable spirit. Truly, the song ‘No Regrets’ embodies her life and legacy, which was nothing but full and brilliant in spite of the many tragic circumstances she went through.

I hope that the audience will experience the complete picture of Edith Piaf – both the great and the tragic, the perfect and the imperfect. And that they’ll see her music is timeless.

The two solos I will be singing are ‘Milord’ and ‘The Effect You Have on Me’. The former is challenging because it’s a narrative told in song, both sung and spoken. The latter is a very romantic and emotive song. I love it!

I think the tribute is not a literal one, which would be to render cover versions of songs the way Edith Piaf had sung them, but really to capture her overriding spirit of resilience and magnetism.

Lim Kay Siu
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Lim Kay Siu

I saw a documentary about Edith Piaf as a teenager, and was deeply moved by her music and her story. Much later in life, I acted in a play about her.

Edith Piaf is the inspiration from which we intend to springboard. [We’re not looking to] emulate too faithfully or too literally. I certainly hope we don’t lose her spirit!

I like to sing while playing guitar, which is very ‘un-Piaf’ in many ways. And I love blues/folk very much. I just hope Piaf lovers will be open-minded!

If Edith Piaf were alive today to hear me, she would probably find it very weird to see a Chinese Singaporean sing her songs in English – and ‘blues-ified’ as well!

Leandra Leandra
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Leandra Leandra

What piqued my interest was the fact that I was pretty familiar with the song [‘La Vie en Rose’] but wanted to learn more about Edith Piaf and see what I had to offer in portraying people from all walks of life in this beautiful musical.

Her life and legacy sum up the words ‘love’ and ‘motivation’. She went through positive and negative experiences in her life and still had the courage and drive to keep pursuing her music. The lady was extraordinary.

‘La Vie en Rose’ means ‘life in pink’. I definitely can connect to this as I’m all about love. I can feel her passion, her calling and her exceptional musicality in this phenomenal track.

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