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Azula Philips & Joe Baque – A Piaf Tribute

One hundred years after the birth of French cabaret singer Edith Piaf, local artist and musician Azula Phillips is paying her tribute on Vashon. Phillips says she first discovered Piaf while studying and performing in France in 1992, and in a subsequent visit years later she happened into a gathering on the anniversary of the singer’s death. “We all sat in this tiny stone chapel and few words were spoken,” she says. “Then someone hit ‘play’ and the voice of Piaf virtually exploded into the room.”

Phillips says she’s not a Piaf scholar though she thinks of the singer as a friend and mentor. “She was born into poverty and suffered great losses at a very young age. Her spirit and her music were irrepressible.” Over the course of her life, Piaf faced the death of a child, several near-fatal automobile accidents and problems with addiction. Phillips says Piaf confronted these challenges with the power of song. “Music keeps us alive at levels we are only beginning to realize,” Phillips adds. “It’s a healing act to burst out into song because you can’t contain your happiness or grief—we’ve stopped doing this—other cultures have kept this tradition.”

At 94 years old, it would be completely appropriate to call pianist Joe Baque a living legend. Growing up near Queens, New York, he started piano lessons at age six and is well known to have “played with all the greats.” This includes musical geniuses such as Lena Horne, Louis Armstrong, Coleman Hawkins and Zoot Sims. Possessing a vast musical knowledge and deft touch in keyboard styles – from classical to jazz, show tunes to Latin, blues to rock and roll – Joe’s performance credits include gigs at Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, and The Roxy in New York.

Azula has been in correspondence with the Piaf Museum in Paris, and along with Joe, collaborate on lesser known songs in the Piaf catalogue.

Saturday, March 19, 7:30 pm
Vashon Allied Arts
$14 Member, $16 Senior, $18General