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Rich Kienzle

(b Milwaukee, WI, Feb 18, 1914; d Louisville, KY, March 7, 2000). American country music accordionist, bandleader, songwriter, and vocalist. His musical career was inspired by his father, John, a Polish American who led a local polka band. At 15, he began learning accordion and, in ...

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Barry Jean Ancelet

(b Pointe Noire, nr Church Point, LA, Oct 28, 1928; d nr Eunice, LA, Oct 8, 1955). American accordionist, vocalist, and songwriter. He was one of the most influential musicians in Cajun music. Born into a musical family, which also included Angelas, Rodney, Vinesse, Eddie, Homer, and Felton Lejeune, Iry was nearly blind and thus hard to employ. Music allowed him to support his family, with whom he lived in his adopted hometown of Lacassine. He was a prolific songwriter, adapting many songs from the earlier repertoire of Amédé Ardoin. In his teens when World War II ended, he led the return of the diatonic accordion in Cajun music, which had dropped the instrument and the French language in favor of western swing and country music, and the English language, which attended the Americanization of the 1930s. In ...

Article

Eddy Determeyer

(b Battle Creek, MI, Dec 17, 1910; d New York, NY, May 28, 1988). American arranger, composer, producer, bandleader, trumpeter, and singer. Growing up as an African American musician in Zanesville, Ohio, Oliver was self taught as a trumpeter and arranger. After playing in territory bands in and around Zanesville and Columbus, he became a member of Jimmie Lunceford’s orchestra in ...

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John-Carlos Perea

(b Salem, OR, June 18, 1941; d Portland, OR, Feb 10, 1992). American tenor and soprano saxophonist, singer, bandleader, and composer. Of Native American (Creek and Kaw) heritage, he was raised in Oregon and Oklahoma. Early musical influences included tap dance, big band jazz, Southern Plains powwow music and dance, and peyote music. Pepper moved to New York in ...

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Cathy Ragland

(b Marion, TX, May 29, 1936). American accordionist, singer, and songwriter. Texas-Mexican musician Domingo “Mingo” Saldívar is from a musical family and learned traditional ballads and folk songs from his mother. By age 11 he played guitar and accordion. In the 1950s and 60s he played in Los Guadalupanos and Los Caminantes during which time he wrote his first hit song, “Andan diciendo” (“People are talking”). He spent some years in the military and in Alaska where he worked for relatives who owned a restaurant, often playing and singing for customers. In ...

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Barry Jean Ancelet

(b Crowley, LA, Oct 2, 1958). Cajun accordionist, vocalist, and songwriter. He is arguably the most influential Cajun musician of the current generation. He was one of the new generation of young musicians that emerged in the 1970s, just when many were predicting that Cajun music would die out. He honed his vocal and accordion skills by sitting in with bands at house dances and dance halls. He began recording as a backup musician for established musicians such as Camey Doucet and eventually formed his own group to perform and record his first album for Sonet Records. He continued to experiment with styles and instrumentation, leading to the development of what he called zydecajun: a fusion of Cajun music and zydeco, influenced by Southern rock and country as well as old masters within the tradition, especially Iry Lejeune, Aldus Roger, Belton Richard, and Lawrence Walker. He recorded a number of albums for J.D. Miller’s Master Trak studios in Crowley and eventually for Mercury and Polygram, featuring songs with English as well as French lyrics, such as “Mon ami,” “Soigne mes enfants,” “Take my hand,” and a locally popular cover of “Tupelo Honey.” He has taken his zydecajun music on tour throughout the United States and on a few State Department–sponsored USIA tours abroad. His modernization of Cajun music and zydeco has been especially popular among younger generations, influencing not only a new generation of young musicians but also a new generation of young fans. He has been featured in several documentaries, including Les Blank and Chris Strachwitz’s ...