Friday, January 27, 2012

U.S. and France honor Miles Davis and Édith Piaf with stamps

ArtsBeat reports: Both Miles Davis and Édith Piaf were both maverick, contrarian performers, esteemed even more after their deaths. So it makes sense that they should now be recognized simultaneously with stamps issued in their honor.

The United States and France announced yesterday that both countries would issue separate stamps this year to commemorate the artists and their music.

The stamps show both performers in characteristic poses: Davis, the jazz trumpet player who died in 1991, arched back with his instrument to his lips, and Piaf, the singer who died in 1963, with her hands dramatically extended.

In the United States the stamps will be part of the Forever series, which are equal in value to the prevailing first-class letter rate; as part of the same program the writer O. Henry, the actor José Ferrer, the entertainer Danny Thomas and the magazine publisher John H. Johnson will also be honored this year.

Reaction from admirers of the often-prickly Davis, who is following in the philatelic footsteps of his own hero, Louis Armstrong, could perhaps be summed up with the title of a song that Davis performed in the latter phase of his career: “It’s About That Time.”

Lee Barham, chairman of a jazz celebration committee in Davis’s hometown, Alton, Ill., put it this way: “Before Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley,” both of whom have already been honored with stamps, though not Jackson in the United States, “there was Miles Davis.”

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