Folk Alliance International (FAI) has announced the award
recipients and inductees for the International Folk Music Awards (IFMAs). The
awards will be presented on Wednesday, January 22, 2020, on the opening night
of FAI’s 32nd annual conference taking place in New Orleans, Louisiana. The
IFMAs recognize folk music legends, unsung heroes, and rising talent.
The Elaine Weissman Lifetime Achievement Awards, named after FAI’s co-founder and determined by membership vote, are presented to honor the cultural impact of legendary folk music figures and organizations. The 2020 recipients are celebrated cajun band BeauSoleil (Living), the “Queen of Gospel” Mahalia Jackson (Legacy), and the iconic Preservation Hall (Business/Academic).
Ani DiFranco will receive The People’s Voice Award, presented annually to an individual who unashamed embraces social and political commentary in their creative work and public career.
The Pickathon festival, based in Portland, Oregon, will
receive The Clearwater Award, presented annually to a festival that prioritizes
environmental stewardship and demonstrates public leadership in sustainable
Spirit of Folk Awards, honoring those involved in the
promotion and preservation of folk music through creative work, community
building, and leadership, will be presented to Ake Lundstrom (Nordic Folk
Alliance), folklorist/writer Ben Sandmel, Ellen Bello (Native American Music
Awards), refugee-artist Ephraim Bugumba, Jan Ramsey (OffBeat Magazine), and Laura Hassler (Musicians Without
This year’s inductees into FAI’s Folk DJ Hall of Fame
include Holger Petersen (CBC, CKUA – Edmonton, Canada), Mary Katherine Aldin
(past KPFK – Los Angeles, USA), and Nick
Spitzer (PRX – New Orleans, USA).
Following a compilation of year-end charts, FAI members will vote to determine the 2019 Album, Song, and Artist of the Year, which are announced and presented during the IFMAs.
Louisiana musician Jimmy Breaux was the longtime accordionist in celebrated Cajun band BeauSoleil. He is in the fourth generation of his family to play Cajun music.
Jimmy Breaux was born in 1967 and grew up in Louisiana. In 1988 at the age of 2 Breaux joined Michael Doucet’s pioneering young Cajun band BeauSoleil not only helping to bring pride to their Cajun heritage but also popularizing their dance music rooted in tradition by playing it around the world over the next 25 years.
In addition to being featured on BeauSoleil recordings Breaux has released solo albums that feature not only Doucet and other bandmates but other leaders of contemporary Louisiana Cajun music such as Steve Riley.
With a combination of Cajun classics and original songs Breaux is carrying on and extending his family tradition.
Among his musical relatives are his father Preston Breaux, grandfather Amé Breaux, brother Pat Breaux, great-grandfather Auguste Breaux and great-aunt Cleoma Breaux. The latter was married to Joe Falcon, one of the great Cajun musicians of the 1930s.
BeauSoleil has secured their position as America’s most popular Cajun group. BeauSoleil has preserved the rich Cajun musical traditions of Louisiana, while adding elements of zydeco, New Orleans jazz, Tex-Mex, country, blues and more.
BeauSoleil translates as “beautiful sunshine.” It’s also the name of an 18th century Acadian rebel leader, Beausoleil Broussard, after whom Michael Doucet, founder, fiddler and passionate vocalist for the band, named the group.
Michael Doucet dedicated much of his life to the study of the origins of Cajun music. He studied with grand old masters such as Denis McGee and Canray Fontenot, and searched out early 78 rpm recordings and unaccompanied ballad singers. At the same time, he was constantly aware of the other musical forms around him – jazz, country, R&B and rock and roll. As Doucet once explained early in his career, “If I was going to play Cajun music, I wanted to play it right. And if I was going to change Cajun music, I have to be sure of the direction.”
BeauSoleil has numerous recording projects to its credit, including award-winning movie soundtracks. They garnered six Grammy nominations before winning Grammy gold in 1997 for Best Traditional Folk Album.
Recorded live in concert at The Barns Of Wolf Trap near Washington, D.C., in March 2, Looking Back Tomorrow: Beausoleil Live! marked BeauSoleil’s return to the first venue to serve their sizzling musical gumbo to audiences beyond Louisiana’s borders. When BeauSoleil took center stage at the National Folk Festival in 1976, an infectious musical genre, rooted firmly in the culture of a long oppressed people, boogied into the spotlight.
“When I was growing up, the word Cajun was never used,” says founder/fiddler/lead vocalist/chief songwriter Michael Doucet in the albums’s liner notes, penned by author and journalist Michael Tisserand (Gambit Weekly). “People finally started to become a little more proud of their culture. Even if you weren’t as educated as a Philadelphia lawyer, you had something to offer, to give-a way of life.”
On Looking Back Tomorrow: Beausoleil Live! BeauSoleil showcases their arrangements on traditional songs (“J’ai Ete au Bal,” “Travailler C’est Trop Dur,” “Grand Mamou”); debuts four new Doucet-penned originals (“Amede,” “Varise,” “Quoi ‘y a Toi,” and “Ma Douce Amie”); salutes pioneers Dennis McGee (“Pa Janvier”) as well as Clarence Garlow and Eddie Shuler (“Bon Temps Rouler”), and infuses Cajun flavor into rock ‘n’ roll-a BeauSoleil trademark (“It’s You I Love,” written by Dave Bartholomew and “Fats” Domino).
BeauSoleil-Doucet, along with his brother David (vocals/guitar), Jimmy Breaux (accordians), Al Tharp (bass/fiddle), Tommy Alesi (drums), and Billy Ware (percussion)-has released six albums on Rhino, garnered eight Grammy nominations over the course of their career, and won the Grammy for Best Traditional Folk album in 1998 for Rhino’s L’Amour ou La Folie.
In September of 2004, Vanguard Records released Gitane Cajun, the group’s first studio album since 1999.