A tribute to a music legend


THE music of “The Little Sparrow” will sing throughout the region during this year’s Southland Arts Festival.

Sans Souci: A Tribute to Edith Piaf will be performed by ex-pat Southlander Rachel France and her partner Tom Callwood (The Phoenix Foundation, Little Bushmen) at Stewart Island, Te Anau and Invercargill.

France said she was looking forward to returning south and performing again as part of the festival.

She said the show had had different arrangements over the years, but this formation would be the “original Sans Souci duo”. France plays accordion, while Callwood is on double bass.

“We’ve been performing, the two of us, since 2004.”

“We’ve been perfecting our craft for 14 years now, we know the music pretty well.”

Songs would include La vie en rose and Je ne regrette rien.

“We play hits, but we’re quite fond of the rarities as well.

“[Some of] the songs sound very circus like and playful, but… the meanings of them come from quite an expressive, dark place. Edith Piaf had a lot of loss in her life.

“Which I think can ring true for most people who’ve ever loved and lost, can totally relate to those feelings.”

France described Piaf as an “amazing woman”, who died at 47 and had a relatively hard life.

Piaf became quite famous during the German occupation of France in World War 2, she said.

“They perceived her as a traitor because she’d go in and she’d play in the prisoner of war camps.”

However, she had an ulterior motive.

“The whole band would go in and she’d go in with false papers and smuggle prisoners out, and say they’re part of the band, so she was pretty gutsy.”

France said she would share a little of Piaf’s story with the audience throughout the show.

“I unlock the meaning of the songs that we sing so people aren’t left in the dark wondering what we’re going on about,” she laughed.

France said creating and performing the show had been a great journey, which they were still continuing on.

“What I love about it the most is it’s a platform for me to perform as an actor as well.”

A former Verdon College pupil, France said she studied French until the end of high school and was a keen performer in school productions and choirs.

After leaving school, she went to teachers’ college and also pursued her arts dream.

“I always wanted to perform. I still have a good balance, to be able to do both, which is great. It’s a good vehicle for expression.”

Sans Souci: A Tribute to Edith Piaf, Friday, April 27, 7.30pm, Stewart Island Events Centre. Saturday, April 28, 7.30pm, Te Anau Club. Sunday, April 29, 3pm, Repertory House.

Stewart Island door sales only; for other shows book at TicketDirect.

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