On December 19th Edith Piaf’s music filled Town Hall. The roster was impressive with British musical theater star Elaine Paige, who starred in a 90s London revival of Piaf, headlining. Ms. Paige intensely sang Piaf’s signature songs “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien” and “Hymne à l’Amour.” Robert Osborne, of the Turner Classic Movies channel, M.C’d as Meow Meow brought on “La Vie en Rose,” Gay Marshall, sang “Pigalle” and “La Foule,”Kim David Smith, an Australian singer, sang “Padam, Padam” and Molly Pope came with “Milord.” The jazz violinist Aaron Weinstein proved chanteuse can also be done with just an instrument, as did the 15-piece American Pops Orchestra, conducted by Luke Frazier. Marilyn Maye added weight with two Cole Porter songs,
Piaf, who was born in Paris seven days after Frank Sinatra, on Dec. 19, 1915.
Amid all the hosannas, none of Sinatra’s contemporary descendants came close to capturing Ol’ Blue Eyes’ honesty and emotional presence. So it was with Piaf’s admirers, except for the remarkable Vivian Reed, whose renditions of Jacques Laure’s “Heaven Have Mercy” and Charles Dumont and Michel Vaucaire’s “Mon Dieu” shot bullets straight to the gut. Piaf never held back, and neither did Ms. Reed, an heir of Lena Horne in the cold firepower of her majestic rage.