|During the first half of 2002, Evangeline Made: A
Tribute to Cajun Music, produced by Ann Savoy, was released by Vanguard Records,
and The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, a major motion picture with an
appearance by Ann Savoy and her son, Joel, was released by Columbia Pictures.
Evangeline Made was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Traditional
Folk Category. On February 7, 2003, Evangeline Made received offBeat Magazine's
2002 Best Cajun Album Award.
After the Savoy Family Band performed in Hollywood in early June as
part of the premier festivities for the movie, Marc and Ann Savoy were back in Eunice, as
shown in the photos on this page. They played at a benefit held at the Northwest Community
Center to help pay for the funeral expenses of the brother of a friend, and they made
a presentation to teachers in a seminar at LSUE. And, as always, they were at the
Savoy Music Store on Saturday mornings for the weekly jam session. During the latter part
of June, Ann Savoy performed out west with the Magnolia Sisters and sang with Linda
Ronstadt at a festival in Telluride, Colo.
During interviews, Ann Savoy has stressed that, as the subtitle of
the CD Evangeline Made states, Linda Ronstadt, John Fogerty (who performs
"Diggy Liggy Lo," a song written by Terry Clement and first recorded by the
Clement Brothers in 1952), Linda Thompson, Patty Griffin, Richard Thompson, David
Johansen, Maria McKee, Rodney Crowell, and Nick Lowe performed Cajun songs as "a
tribute to Cajun Music." The liner notes include their own brief accounts of how they
came to know and love Cajun music. They are not attempting in any way to rival the
achievements of the Cajun musicians who created the music: they are only showing their
appreciation and trying to expand the audience for Cajun music to include some of their
own fans. The all-star Cajun band that Ann Savoy assembled for the CD features musicians
like Marc Savoy, Michael Doucet, Steve Riley, Sam Broussard, Christine Balfa, Dirk Powell,
Kevin Wimmer, David Greely, Mitchell Reed, Austin Broussard, Jimmy Breaux, David Egan,
Jane Vidrine, and others, including her son, Wilson Savoy, who plays piano on the
instrumental "Vagabond Special." All-star members of the band also perform the
instrumental "Two-Step de Prairie Soileau," and they are the studio musicians
for all of the vocalists.
If you go to the movie Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
hoping to see Cajun music featured, you may be disappointed: an old recording of Blind
Uncle Gaspard singing "Assi dans la Fenêtre de Ma Chambre" plays for about 30
seconds as the movie begins, and Ann and Joel appear twice briefly during an outdoor party
scene set during the World War II years (Joel, who plays fiddle, is wearing a military
uniform). They perform three songs originally recorded by Cleoma Breaux
Falcon"C'est Si Triste," "Lulu Revenue Dans la Village," and
"C'est un Péché de Dire une Mentrie," with only excerpts of the first two
songs heard on the movie's actual soundtrack and the last song barely audible in the
background. However, all four songs are included in their entirety on the CD, which was
produced by T Bone Burnett, whose recent projects include the CD O Brother, Where Art
Interestingly enough, Burnett had heard recordings of Cleoma Breaux
Falcon and had decided to use the three songs before he approached Savoy to see if she
would have any interest in performing them. He asked the right person. In her liner notes
to The Magnolia Sisters' CD Prends Courage, whose title song is by Cleoma, she
describes Cleoma Breaux Falcon as "the most legendary Cajun woman musician ever
recorded." Before doing the songs for the movie, she had already recorded "C'est
un Péché de Dire une Mentrie" on the Savoy-Smith Cajun Band CD in 1996 and
"C'est Si Triste" on the Magnolia Sisters' Chers Amis CD in 2000. Since
the party scene is set during the World War II era, when strings predominated in Cajun
music, Burnett chose not to use an accordion on any of the songs (the original recording
of "C'est Si Triste" includes an accordion). The music suits the party scene
perfectly, but, beyond that, the combination of Ann Savoy's vocals and Joel Savoy's fiddle
is very appealing.
Just as you need to hear all of Ann Savoy's songs instead of the
truncated versions in the movie, you absolutely must listen to all 2 minutes and 57
seconds of "Assi dans La Fenêtre de ma Chambre," sung by Blind Uncle Gaspard,
accompanied only by a single guitar. There is a sadness in Blind Uncle Gaspard's soft,
tender voice that, beyond describing the sense of loss and abandonment when a relationship
ends, draws on what must be a kind of collective memory, shared by many Acadians, of the
abrupt, forced separation from their homeland when their ancestors were sent into exile in
Le Grand Dérangement of 1755. Remarkably, Alison Kraus's English version of the song,
using Ann Savoy's translation and an arrangement by T Bone Burnett and David Mansfield,
captures the same heartfelt sense of irrecoverable loss.
Dan Willging wrote an extensive profile of Ann Savoy in the April 2002 issue of
offBeat Magazine (online link no longer available).
Along with Marc and Ann Savoy, Cory McCauley, Mitchell Reed, and
other musicians, Coz Fontenot performed at a benefit with a band he calls the New Metro
Playboys. He sang familiar Cajun songs in the old high-pitched style. The benefit was held
June 8 at the Northwest Community Center in Eunice to raise money to help pay for the
funeral expenses of his brother, Lawrence Moose Fontenot.
The first and third photos were taken at the Northwest Community Center in Eunice during a
benefit to help raise money to cover the funeral expenses of Lawrence Moose Fontenot. The
benefit was organized by his brother, Coz Fontenot, and other Cajun musicians.
The other photos were taken during a summer teachers' institute
at LSUE. The institute, which focused on the Flood of 1927, was led by Dr. Huey Guagliardo
and Dr. Anthony Baltakis. The Savoys described the way that Cajuns dealt with such
disasters and played traditional songs like "'Tits Yeux Noir" and "Ma
Blonde est partie." The institute was funded by a grant from the Louisiana Endowment
for the Humanities, the Patrick Taylor Foundation, and the State of Louisiana.