MEET THE SISTERS
These ladies are not only gifted musicians but trusted folklorists who are keeping their traditions alive."
The Magnolia Sisters is a band of women who can play the whole gamut of musical styles from southwest Louisiana: Cajun, Creole, dancehall favorites, and front porch ballads. Because of their many rhythmic styles they are loved by dancers, who marvel at the variety of fun grooves they play.
They each switch from one instrument to another during their shows. They are also an ideal band for seated concerts because, in addition to their vast dancehall repertoire, they tell stories, sing rich harmonies on a cappella ballads, and play string band numbers from the 1930's. Much of the Magnolia Sisters music has been gleaned from long-buried Cajun music jewels found their extensive archives.
While these older songs are the more unusual aspect of their sound, they also love to play energetic Cajun dancehall and Creole numbers that bring the audience to their feet. Whatever style they approach, they bring a freshness and vitality to the music. A musical evening with Magnolia Sisters is a fun and enriching experience as they explain the meanings of the songs, move between accordion two-steps, twin fiddle tunes, heavy bass Creole hits, dancehall standards and a cappella ballads. Their most recent CD "Stripped Down"(Arhoolie Records) was nominated for a Grammy in 2010.
The members of the group are Ann Savoy, Jane Vidrine, Anya Burgess, and Lisa Trahan. Each brings to the ensemble her own rich individual experience as a Louisiana musician, mother, and woman in the real world. The common ground is the music, the heritage, and the feeling that comes across.
accordion, guitar, fiddle, vocals
Ann Allen Savoy is a musician, photographer, record producer, and writer. Her destiny was sealed when she began to listen to rare collections of Cajun 78's. After her marriage to acclaimed accordion builder and musician Marc Savoy, she began documenting the Cajun culture, taking photographs, interviewing important musicians, and transcribing the Cajun French songs. This work ultimately became a book, Cajun Music: A Reflection of a People Volume 1, which won the prestigious Botkin book award from the American Folklore Society. An avid photographer since high school, her photos have been exhibited at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and at the Festival of American Music in Eugene, Oregon.
Ann, a musician since the age of ten, began touring extensively with her husband and Michael Doucet as the Savoy-Doucet Cajun Band, appearing in such venues such as the Berlin Jazz Festival, Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, and throughout Europe, Canada, and the United States. She and her friend Jane Vidrine also formed the Magnolia Sisters, an all women band, to explore the feminine side of Cajun music. She has a band with her husband and two sons, the Savoy Family Cajun Band. She has recorded fifteen CDs on the Arhoolie, Rounder, Vanguard, and Memphis International labels.
Approached by Vanguard executive Steve Buckingham, Ann produced two tributes to Cajun and Creole music, the concept of these CDs being famous mainstream musicians performing with traditional musicians. The first of these, Evangeline Made, was nominated for a Grammy. Shortly thereafter she was approached by T-Bone Burnett to appear in the film "The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood" and in the film appears as a 1940s musician. Her songs from this film appear on the Sony soundtrack to the movie.
Her good friend, Linda Ronstadt, asked her to record an album of duets with her, and this CD, Adieu False Heart, was also nominated for a Grammy.
Today Ann lives in Eunice, Louisiana, and continues to travel with her bands, record, write books, and appear in films.
guitar, fiddle, vocals
Jane is recognized around Acadiana as a musician, folklorist, cultural activist, and teacher. She has been playing and singing since she was very young and has always been drawn to the old masters to learn.
She studied ballad singing with the late Almeda Riddle, and documented and performed with French fiddlers and singers from the endangered French speaking area of Old Mines, Missouri. She studied fiddle with the late Lionel LeLeux and Dick Richard.
In the 1970's she worked as Folk Arts Coordinator for the National Park Service, planning programs, festivals, and museum exhibitions. She was Director of the Louisiana Folklife Pavilion at the 1984 World's Fair in New Orleans. It was here that she met her Cajun husband, John Vidrine. They married and moved to Lafayette where they had a Cajun band along with twin fiddlers Eric and Clay Chapman.
During her years in Lafayette, Jane has worked as a museum curator, producing exhibits on the diversification of the cultures in this region, as an artist in the schools, and in numerous cultural tourism projects including FrancoFete '99.
One of her important undertakings was Louisiana Voices, a program which teaches schools how to preserve and present, within the school curriculums, the unique cultural heritage of Louisiana.
fiddle, guitar, vocals
Anya Burgess plays, restores, and builds violins. She grew up playing a lot of music, but really found her groove when she started playing traditional tunes on the fiddle in her late teens. Anya studied violin making at Indiana University in Bloomington, IN and also spent many summers in Cape Breton, NS learning from violin maker Otis Tomas. She decided to open her own violin repair and violin building business in the fall of 2002, and has been servicing the needs of South Louisiana string players ever since. She works with both traditional and classical musicians.
Anya has an eclectic taste in music, from world music to pop music and classical, but her main interests in playing and learning tunes are in the Cajun and Old-Time repertoires. She has always really loved to travel and play music, but there's nothing she loves better than hanging out at her home and workshop on the Bayou Teche with her husband Richard and sons Reuben and Silas. In addition to playing with the Magnolia Sisters, she's also a member of the all-female Cajun band, Bonsoir, Catin.
bass, vocals, percussion, accordion
Lisa Trahan was raised in Scott, La. and comes from a long history of French culture and music. Her father Harry Trahan, played for many years in the dancehalls of Louisiana and Texas and often played at home for the family. Other musical members of the family include Harry's brother, Willie T. (a great swamp-pop saxophonist and singer), and Bixy Guidry, Lisa's great grandmother's brother, who recorded Cajun music in the 1920's
In addition to singing, Lisa plays the accordion, bass, guitar, triangle, and rubboard. She is renovating an historic home in Grand Coteau, Louisiana, where she lives with her daughter, Renee.