The Poor People of Paris was originally formed in the mid-eighties by French singer/multiple woodwind player Elsie Parker and keyboardist/bassoonist Donita Bauer.
The duo performed for many years in the St. Louis, Missouri area. The group’s out of town engagements have included San Francisco’s club “Piaf’s” and The Chicago Cultural Center concert series. The duo The Poor People of Paris recorded two albums; “Elle se souvient” (She Remembers) 1997 and “Entre nous” (Between Us) 2000.
Elsie Parker, the group's founder, first became enchanted with the voice and songs of Edith Piaf, and especially loves singing Piaf's early songs. Elsie also performs (in French) songs associated with Charles Aznavour, Hervé Vilard, Mireille Mathieu, Michael Legrand, Patricia Kaas, Axel Red, Jaques Brel, Leo Marjane, Eddy Mitchell, Vanessa Paradis, Gilbert Becaud, Serge Lama, Sylvie Bernard, and Charles Trenet, as well as performing her own original material.
Elsie Parker has traveled to Paris, France to perform on French television’s “La Chance aux Chansons”. Pascal Sevran, the host of the show, dubbed her: “Une chanteuse originale…une vedette.” (“An original singer…a star.”)
Elsie has also performed as vocal soloist and clarinet soloist with orchestras in Missouri, Illinois and Florida. Elsie owns an entire library of orchestrations for her songs in French and English.
Elsie is an extra clarinetist for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra as well as a tenured member of the St. Louis Municipal Opera Orchestra (The MUNY) as clarinet/saxophone/flute doubler.
Elsie is a member of the St. Louis FOX Theater Orchestra, the Kevin Kline Awards Show Orchestra, The Crusell Quartet, Trio d’anches, and Trio Eclectique.
Since 2000 The Poor People of Paris has grown from a duo to a quartet with some personnel changes. Keyboardist Michael Carosello was introduced to the group bringing a fresh improvisatory pop/jazz approach to the ensemble while still retaining the charm of the more traditional French pieces. Further expansion includes master drummer/percussionist Alan Schilling, whose experience includes decades as a substitute with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. Since 2006 The Poor People of Paris has welcomed the addition of former Ray Charles band member Wayne Coniglio on string bass.
The current The Poor People of Paris performed for the Whitaker Music Festival at the Missouri Botanical Gardens in July 2008 with a crowd of ten thousand in attendance. Elsie Parker and the Poor People of Paris have become regulars at music festivals, concert series and private functions around St. Louis.
In production at this time is a segment of the HEC television network’s show “State of the Arts” featuring Elsie and the PPOP and it will air in March 2009.
Elsie Parker and The Poor People of Paris has recorded their third album, “Je t’aime encore” (I Love You Still), 2007.
Quotes and Reviews -
"Elsie ...sings as strongly as the great Edith Piaf of bygone days." - Folkfire Reviews
"Parisians went wild over hometown singer Elsie Parker's recent appearance on the Paris television program "La Chance aux Chansons" - Paul Hample, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"Elsie's beautiful vocals are perfectly matched to a wide variety of French popular songs... with more than just a touch of jazz." - Steve Pick ~St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"Cabaret singing that will make you think you're in a Paris cafe..." - First Night, Grand Center
“…Parker then launched into Michel Legrand's catchy hit, "I Will Wait For You", from Jacques Demy's charming movie musical,” The Umbrellas of Cherbourg”. Parker switched to flute for a splendidly improvisational attack on Barbieri's main theme from his score for the film” Last Tango in Paris.” Parker broke out her tenor saxophone to wail in bluesy fashion to "Elle Danse Seule", a tale of woe featuring a woman who dances alone…
…After a few more fine and memorable numbers, Parker began the last section of the show with a tribute to the legendary Edith Piaf. First up, was an instrumental piece from composer Christopher Gunning that appeared in the acclaimed bio-pic, La Vie En Rose. Emotionally rendered takes on "Milord", "La Vie En Rose", "Fais-Moi Valser" and "Padam...Padam..." brought the evening to a close on a powerful and uplifting note.”
- KDHX critic Chris Gibson reviewing a live performance June 27, 2008 at The Cabaret at Savor
“Parker can be breathy and coy on one song and strident and forthright on the next; her changing tone enhances the drama. As a saxophonist and flautist, Parker plays sweet, sonorous lines that never step over her backing trio.” – Christian Schaeffer The Riverfront Times
“Elsie Parker is gaining a great reputation and following for her work, often being compared to legendary French singer Edith Piaf. Her success lead her to appearing on French television to rave reviews and finishing two CDs entitled Entre Nous (Between Us) and Elle se souvient (She Remembers). There was no problem if you didn't speak French, her music was complimented as being accessible to non-speakers as well”. – KDHX Reviewer
“These four musicians have recently released a strong CD, “Je T'aime Encore” (the third Poor People album, but the first with this group)…"I'd like it to be that people who don't understand a word of French can enjoy it," said Parker, "and be transported to a different place where it's a language of love, and there aren't any problems and it's just a beautiful place. It's a land of love and mystery and beautiful sounds."” - Steve Pick – St. Louis Magazine July 2008