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

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Sheryl Cormier

and Cajun Sounds

Click here for high resolution photos of Sheryl Cormier posted on Flickr.

When Sheryl Cormier was honored March 9, 2002, as a “Living Legend” at the Acadian Museum’s Café in Erath, Kermit Bouillion, museum program director, described her many accomplishments. In an environment that used to be almost totally dominated by men, Sheryl Cormier was the first Cajun female musician to record playing the accordion, but her achievements go far beyond that.

Known as “La Reine de Musique Cadjine,” Cormier was born March 15, 1945, in Grand Couteau. The family subsequently moved to Sunset. Her father, a sharecropper, played the accordion, and her mother played drums. When she was seven, Sheryl began to learn to the play her father’s accordion while he was working in the fields. Initially, he did not approve, but eventually, Sheryl began performing occasionally in her father’s band, Andrew Guilbeau and the Sunset Playboys. In an interview with Dominick Cross published in the Baton Rouge Advocate in 1997, Sheryl Cormier described the importance of these early memories: “It’s just a great feeling when I play. It’s just a sound that comes from the old roots. All I can say is I grew up around it.”

According to the liner notes to her 1992 CD The Queen of Cajun Music, at her wedding dance at Jay’s Lounge and Cockpit in Cankton, Aldus Roger called her up to the bandstand and got her to play in her wedding dress, which, in the Cajun custom, was pinned all over with money given by guests as wedding gifts.

After she married Russell Cormier, she retired from music, but eventually she began performing again after Blackie Forestier asked her to play with his band one night in Lewisburg. Forestier eventually persuaded her to record her father’s tune, “The Guilbeau Waltz.”

By the late 1970s, she formed her own band, and for a while performed in an all-female band (with Becky Richard, Gina Forsyth, and Danish native Elsebeth Krogh). After joining with her husband and son, Russell Jr., to form Cajun Sounds, Cormier went on to record 45s and released her first album, La Reine de Musique Cadjine in 1990 on the Swallow label. Several cuts from that album are included on the CD Queen of Cajun Music, also released by Swallow.

According to Kermit Bouillion in a biographical sketch prepared for Cormier’s induction as a “Living Legend,” she says that her own accordion style has been influenced by Nathan Abshire, Aldus Roger, and Lawrence Walker.

The membership of Cajun Sounds has changed over the years, but, always at Sheryl’s side is her husband, Russell, who serves as manager and chief vocalist. Some of the numbers from the CD like "The Bottle" and "Jolie Fille" are part of the group’s standard repertoire that audiences around Louisiana and far beyond expect to hear when Sheryl Cormier and Cajun Sounds perform. Over the years, they have visited most states as well as Canada and have gone on European tours. In August 2001, the band played a noon-time concert at the United States Congress and then played at the Millennium Stage of the Kennedy Center.

After Sheryl's mother passed away in early fall 2001, she did not perform for several months, but by spring 2002 Sheryl Cormier and Cajun Sounds were back on stage and making plans to record a new CD.

For more information about the band, contact Russell Cormier, (337) 896-0652.

In the top left photo, Sheryl Cormier is shown with Kermit Bouillion, program director of the Acadian Museum in Erath when she was honored  as a “Living Legend” in a ceremony in the museum's café. Sheryl and Russell Cormier are shown in the other photos taken at the Liberty Theater in Eunice.  In the background in the bottom left column photo is Blake Castille.

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All photographs and text by David Simpson.

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