The Arhoolie Foundation’s Ann Savoy Cajun Interviews Collection consists of over 200 recorded interviews Ann Savoy conducted with Louisiana musicians over the past 45 years.
The Arhoolie Foundation provided a grant for its digital preservation, and we present the interviews here in streaming audio as a compliment to Ann’s seminal books: Cajun Music: A Reflection of a People Volumes 1 and 2, available from Bluebird Press. If you are interested in the history of Cajun Music and the people who make it, these books are simply indispensable. In them you will find text transcriptions of the interviews featured here, as well as rare photographs, artist biographies, and much more.
Selected Ann Savoy Interviews
I interviewed Adam twice, once at his house where I also took portraits of him and once at my house where I filmed him playing his wonderful music. The lyrics in Adam’s songs have more poetry in them than most and he always had excellent bands playing with him.
There can’t be enough said about the importance of Aldus Roger and the Lafayette Playboys. Their excellent band set the standard for Cajun dancehall bands. They actually were on TV on Saturday afternoons in Acadiana on channel 10 and both Cajuns and Black creoles would sit riveted to their TVs watching them, so proud for one of their own French speaking people to be on TV!
When I lived in Richmond, Virginia, one of my first and favorite Louisiana LPs was an album from the Arhoolie label by Bois Sec Ardoin, Canray Fontenot, and his son, Morris. I loved the simplicity of the accordion style, the soulful tone of the vocals, and the way they spoke the French language.
A cantankerous character with a heart of gold, this feisty friend of Marc’s is credited with several musical firsts in Cajun music, like playing a fiddle in standard tuning and playing an accordion in third position.
I had met Clifton Chenier several times with my husband Marc, who was a good friend of Clifton. Marc used to go to listen to Clifton at various venues and Clifton would always ask him to come up on the stage and play his “little accordion” (in contrast to Clifton’s piano key accordion!).
Dennis lived in Eunice and was a constant visiter at Marc’s store, Savoy Music Center, and also at our house. Since he was the best living example of early Cajun music he was in high demand among musical historians and with young Cajuns and outsiders who wanted to learn the roots of the music.
I had become fascinated with the ballads recorded by Mr. Naquin and wanted to meet him. He lived on a tiny farm in the town of Reddell, Louisiana, near Mamou. I had heard many of his recorded ballads on field recordings made by friends and colleagues.
I had interviewed each of these men separately but gathering these three men together was primarily done so I could photograph them for the NTCA. After the photos were taken, they came inside for a visit and Marc asked them questions in French about their worlds.
Papa Cairo was a big, brazen man and a big talker. He came to my house for the interview because I had my children at home and it was easier for him to come over. He didn’t have too much good to say about musicians in general, which he called “low lifes”. He had an amazing photo scrapbook which he allowed me to copy.
I interviewed Happy Fats at my house in Eunice. He and his old friend Doc Guidry came over for coffee and talked about the old days.
Chuck was a regular a Marc’s Savoy Music Center Saturday morning jam session. He was from Mamou and had composed or made famous some of the Cajun hits like Tolan Waltz, Grand Mamou, and The Last Waltz.
Though I never personally met Austin I had heard him play at the Evangeline Club in Eunice. Marc and I stopped in one Sunday afternoon and entered a pitch black room, freezing cold due to the air conditioning. The music was rocking and the dance floor was packed.
I drove the two hour trip to the Avoyelles region in search of traces of Blind Uncle Gaspard and Delma Lachney. The recordings of Blind Uncle Gaspard had always been my favorite Louisiana recording due to their uniqueness and haunting, strange quality of sound.
I went to Rayne in search of information about the Babineaux family who had a popular stringband there in the 1940’s. Somehow I found a relative of Sidney Babineaux, Wanda Wilson, who had a wonderful box of photos of the Babineaux family that she shared with me for my book.
When I first moved to Louisiana in 1977 I travelled extensively with Marc, D.L. Menard and Doc Guidry, The Louisiana Aces. I often brought my baby daughter Sarah with us. This was before I was playing music with Marc in public. Doc was a superb Cajun fiddler, defining the best of the 1960’s dancehall fiddle sound when he recorded with Aldus Roger and the Lafayette Playboys.
Every Christmas my husband Marc Savoy, fiddler Wade Frugé and I would play a Christmas dance and the local Catholic church. Our children would come along and there was always a Santa with a Cajun accent (easily recognizable local farmer) and a gumbo and all the local neighbors would come. – Ann Savoy
Walter has been a friend of our family for years. He lead the great Scott Playboys who played a nonstop run at La Poussiere Dancehall for 40 years. He actually started that band when he was a young boy-other young boy members of the band were Johnny Allan and Hubert Maitre!
This gentle, quiet man came to visit at Savoy Music Center when he was in Louisiana on a visit from his current home in Los Angeles, where he had moved in 1984. I had thought of him as a zydeco man but his stories of the past were rich, deep descriptions of the legendary creole and zydeco musicians he had learned from in his childhood days in Louisiana.
Boozoo rose to great popularity in his second musical career in 1984, rocking dancehalls all over the country. He had had a bad experience when he first recorded in 1954 and didn’t record again until thirty years later when he started playing dances again.
Deep Dives: The Ann Savoy Collection
Check out our Deep Dive video series featuring the Ann Savoy Collection for a curated look at some of the big names in the cajun music tradition.
Books by Ann Savoy
The long awaited Cajun Music A Reflection of a People Volume II continues exploring the fascinating world of Cajun music, Cajun musicians, and the rich Louisiana culture surrounding the music. Beautifully illustrated with historical and recent photographs, thirty five English and Cajun French interviews and biographies, over 100 songs with French translations and phonetics, this book is a must have for lovers of the south and lovers of Louisiana culture everywhere.
“Perhaps the most comprehensive and stunning portrait of this music ever written.”
-The Washington Post
Savoy’s first compilation has become “The Cajun Bible” for all who are interested in the culture and music of the Cajuns of Louisiana.