to the Official Web Site of Musique Acadienne and
Les Amies Louisianaises for more information, to
order CDs, or to book the group.
Every holiday season at the
Liberty Theater in Eunice, people from near and far
gather to enjoy the annual Christmas Show featuring
Les Amies Louisianaises along with the Jambalaya
Cajun Band. The radiant voices of the group's
four-part harmony in French lift familiar songs
into a different realm of transcendent beauty. Their signature song is "La Grace du Ciel"
("Amazing Grace"), performed with soaring, deeply
moving harmonies affirming the abiding
peace and consolation of God's grace. In addition to
Christmas music, their repertoire includes a
number of other traditional religious songs like "Que
Tu es grand" ("How Great Thou Art") and "O jour
hereux" ("O Happy Day"), as well as original
religious songs and a variety of other numbers best
described by the title of the group's second album,
Chansons d'inspiration (Songs of Inspiration).
Members of the group are
Jeanette Aguillard, Janet Aguillard, Lisa Aguillard, and Donna Thibodeaux. In their liner notes, the four
say, "We are at once proudly Christian, American and
Acadian/Cajun. We hope that these songs will inspire
others to appreciate and love the unique legacy
which our ancestors have passed down to us."
Those immediate ancestors
include Milton Vanicor, the father of Jeanette and
grandfather of Lisa. Iry LeJeune lived with the
Vanicors and, as the Lacassine Playboys, Milton and
his brothers performed and recorded with Iry. (Milton's
mother played accordion, and he can recall house
dances played by Amédé Ardoin.) The other
members of Les Amies Louisianaises also have deep
roots in Cajun music through their ancestors and
their upbringing. The four met when they were all
singing in the same church choir in Lake Charles.
The other "chansons
d'inspiration" on the CD include a French version of
the United States National Anthem and "Hommage à nos vétérans," based on "God
Bless America" with words in French by David Émile
Marcantel, who wrote or translated into French most
of the lyrics on the CD. In addition, Les Amies
Louisianaises sing "Ave Maris Stella" ("Hail to the
Star of the Sea"), adopted at a conference in 1884
as the Acadian National Anthem, Zachary Richard's
"Reveille," and a more serene tribute to the Acadian
heritage in an original song, "La magic d'Evangeline."
Other original songs
include a call-response spiritual, "Appelez son nom"
("Call His Name"), "C'était toi, Seigneur" ("It Was
You, Lord"), with accordion, fiddle, and guitar by Steve
Riley, and "Jésus, Jésus, que j'aime ton nom si
saint" ("Jesus, I Love Your Holy Name"). The
CD has a
total of 14 cuts. The religious songs from the CD,
plus "Amazing Grace," have been released in English
versions on another CD, Love Can Build a Bridge.
Janet Aguillard has also released her own CD,
This Is Me.
The group's first CD, La Musique Unique des Acadiens, which features
Marcantel's French version of "Amazing Grace," has
the Christmas numbers "Il est né, le divin Enfant"
and "Reviens pour Noël" (Charles Brown's "Please Come
Home for Christmas"), plus the lovely "La Valse
Cadienne de Noël," one of several original songs on
the CD written by Jeanette Aguillard.
The CD also features a pleasing selection of Cajun
favorites that undergo a magical transformation sung
by female voices in four-part harmony, including
"Madame Sosthène" (combined with "Madame Bosso"),
"La Valse à Bélisaire," "La Marche des Mariés" (the
familiar wedding march at Cajun weddings), "Allons
Danser, Colinda," "Chère Chérie," and, of course, "Jolie
Blonde." Original songs include "Dis les mots
encore," "Mardi Gras, ô Mardi Gras," which captures
the mystery and allure of Mardi Gras from a female
perspective, and, bringing everything together with
references to many songs, the title cut "La Musique
Unique des Acadiens."
Among the other musicians on
the CD are Lee Benoit, Steve Riley, and Carl Hollier
on accordion and Mark Hebert on fiddle and guitar.
John S. Smith Jr. played percussion, keyboard and
other instruments on both CDs and also did many of
the arrangements and co-wrote songs. Smith and
Marcantel are the producers for both CDs.
Les Amies Louisianaises
received the Cajun French Music Association's Female
Vocalist of the Year Award in 1999 and again in
Shown at the annual Christmas
Show at the
Liberty Theater with Terry Huval of the Jambalaya
Cajun Band in the background are, from left,
Janet Aguillard, Donna Thibodeaux, Jeanette
Aguillard, and Lisa Aguillard.
Janet Aguillard is lead vocalist
number of songs.
Jeanette Aguillard and her
Dancing while performing "La
de Nöel" (shown in back wearing a red blouse is
Lisa Aguillard's daughter Emily).
All of the photos on this
page were taken at the Liberty Theater in Eunice.