The Edition


Last Paris street singer takes final bow

25 May 2020, MVT 22:44
This file picture taken in the 50's shows French singer Lily Lian posing during a photo session at the Harcourt studios in Paris. - Lily Lian, considered the last singer of the streets in Paris, friend of Maurice Chevalier, died on May 24, 2020 at Ivry hospital (Val-de-Marne), announced her godson Michael Gautier. PHOTO: AFP
25 May 2020, MVT 22:44

Paris' last street singer -- who once competed with Edith Piaf to draw the crowds -- has died, her godson said Monday.

Lily Lian, a legend of Paris working class life who was immortalised twice in full flow with her loud hailer by the photographer Robert Doisneau, died on Sunday in a hospital near Paris aged 103.

A friend of the crooner Maurice Chevalier and of actor and singer Yves Montand, she was regarded as the last exponent of a 300-year-old trade, where singers sold lyrics and sheet music for their songs on the street.

Known as "Lily Panam", after the slang term "Paname" for the French capital, she began her career with Piaf in its cafes and on street corners where singers were the walking jukeboxes of pre-war Paris.

But with the spread of radios and record players, street singers found it hard to compete, and Lian never quite made the transition into the indoor entertainment industry despite her good looks.

Born in 1917 when World War I was at its height, she lost her father, a communist resistance fighter, in 1944.

But the one-time muse of the songwriter Vincent Scotto had something of renaissance in the 1980s after writing her autobiography, "Lily Panam: Memories of the Last Street Singer."

Paris, France | AFP