Cajun Music: A Reflection Of A People comes straight from the heart
of a proud, vital, and close-knit culture. Five years in the making,
this rich book's exhaustive scope illuminates both a vibrant tradition
and its fascinating context. Ann Savoy traces the complete evolution
of Cajun music from its earliest inception to the present day. Each
important figure is profiled with a biography, discography, and photo
portrait. Their 'signature tunes' are annotated, many for the first time.
Lengthy interviews with masters like Clifton Chenier and D. L. Menard
let the modern greats speak for themselves. Publishing premiers continue
with lyrical transcriptions in both Cajun French and English, and the
initial appearance of rare, historic photos. Another significant first
is the comprehensive discussion of Cajun instrumental technique. Savoy's
research has been guided by the delicate balance of familiar intimacy
with a newcomer's sense of wonderment. She presents a wealth of information
with ingenuous charm and complete accessibility.
To gather her material Savoy combed Louisiana's Cajun parishes, interviewing,
photographing, and sifting through family albums. Her original concept
was a simple collection of old-time song lyrics, but the project
soon took on a monumental life of its own. "Each time I thought it
was finished," she relates, "something else would appear that had
to be included." Accordingly, a companion volume is already in the works.
What Ann Savoy has already produced, however, is uniquely broad and
comprehensive. Both her beloved, adopted culture and the larger world
of music are richer for her great contribution.
Ann Allen Savoy was born in 1952 and raised in Richmond,
Virginia. Her main childhood interests were music and the French language.
She took up guitar at age twelve, concentrating on various folk styles,
and later studied classical and jazz technique. French became an active
pursuit while living in the Swiss Alps, where her mother taught
school for a year. Savoy went on to major in the language at college,
spending her junior year in Paris. She then returned to Richmond,
teaching music and French, and playing guitar both locally and
in Charlottesville. At the 1975 National Folk Festival she met Cajun
accordionist and accordion maker Marc Savoy, whom she married the
following year. Today the Savoys and their three children live
near Eunice, Louisiana, an especially rich area for Cajun music.
In addition to the arduous tasks of research, writing, and motherhood,
Ann is also an active working musician. She and Marc play frequently
at community functions around Eunice and Mamou, with occasional trips
to national festivals. The Savoys also appear on several records
and have performed on the radio program "Prairie Home Companion."