Diaa Bekheet | Washington, DC – In 2007 I traveled to Paris, France. One of my main goals was to visit the ‘Place de la Concorde’ where there is a 3200-year-old ancient Egyptian obelisk which was placed there in the 19th century. From this marvelous location you can also gaze upon the Arc de Triomphe” and La Tour Eiffel. Of course, it’s normal to hear French music everywhere, but that day, I heard a song that caught me off guard.
“I know this one indeed,” I said to myself. “Wow, that’s “Summertime” by Miles Davis, one of the most influential jazz musicians of the 20th Century. I asked a young lady if the American jazz legend was known in France. “Bien sure, (of course),” she responded enthusiastically. “J’aime beaucoup Miles Davis,” she smiled.
The French government awarded Miles Davis the Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur in July 1991, for being a perpetual jazz innovator.
The young French lady asked if Americans know any French singers. What a coincidence! The question came as we stood outside a shop that was playing “La Vie En Rose” by Edith Piaf. “ Of course! The dazzling and glamorous Edith Piaf,” I answered. “This year (2007) there’s a (biopic) movie named after her song,” I added. Piaf was a music and cultural force not only in France and Europe but also in the United States thanks to her huge hit song “La Vie En Rose.”
“The U.S. Postal Service and La Poste, the French postal administration, are proud to honor Miles Davis and Edith Piaf on two stamps that cross borders, cultures and generations,” announced Roy Betts of the U.S. Postal Service. “The Postal Service learned about a significant exhibit in Paris focusing on Miles Davis this year and believed it was an appropriate time to honor an American music icon beloved in France and a legendary French singer who developed a huge following in the United States.”
Davis and Piaf appeared on the June issue of Forever stamps. They also appeared on the cover of the U.S. Postal magazine “Philatelic.” The stamps are now sold in the United States and in French postal services. The stamps commemorate the accomplishments and contributions of Davis and Piaf throughout our music history.
Davis and Piaf have left indelible marks on the music stage worldwide.
For more on jazz music, listen to VOA’s Jazz America