Archive Files of Cajun, Creole, and Zydeco Musicians
Posted between 1999 and 2008

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  Les Amies Louisianaises

Go 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 2005.

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 on a
number of songs.

Jeanette Aguillard and her daughter,
Lisa Aguillard

Donna Thibodeaux

Dancing while performing "La Valse Cadienne
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.

Les Amies Louisianaises are shown with Louisiana's Kingfish in August 2002,
along with fiddler Milton Vanicor, a member of the Lacassine Playboys who performed
with Iry LeJeune. For a while, LeJeune lived with the Vanicors. Milton Vanicor is
the father of Jeanette Aguillard, at far right, and grandfather of Lisa Aguillard, third from left.

In addition to Les Amies Louisianaises, Ronnie Collins is shown on guitar.


Posted 4-5-07
All photographs and text by David Simpson.

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