FolkFire Articles

July / August 1999

  • LA REINE CADJINE (the Cajun Queen)
  • FolkFire/Focal Point Fusion
  • Dance Mistress
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  • LA REINE CADJINE (the Cajun Queen)
    by Donna Eckberg

    Focal Point presents a unique opportunity to see, hear and dance to Cajun Sounds with the reigning queen of Cajun music, Sheryl Cormier, from Carencro, Louisiana, the heart of Cajun country. Sheryl learned to play Cajun accordion on the sly by sneaking “in” to practice with her father’s accordion while he was “out” working the farm fields. Both parents, who were musicians, took her to French dances during her youth. Once her secret was out she began playing with them and sitting in with musicians such as Blackie Forestier and Aldus Roger.

    Sheryl went on to form her own bands, including a successful all-female Cajun band. She is a rare jewel, a pioneer as the first Cajun woman recorded with the accordion. Her resume includes awards for Female Vocalist of the Year 1988 by the Times of Lafayette, LA and 1989 CFMA, Cajun Music Awards for Best “45” for “Mon Coeur et Mon Amour.” (My Heart and My Love)

    Carrying on the tradition passed down by her father, Sheryl travels the world spreading her “Cajun sounds” with her husband Russell serving as the manager, sound technician and vocalist. Both sing in their native Cajun French. Their music, traditional Cajun, has modern influences such as rubboard and electric guitar. Sheryl’s mastery of the diatonic accordion puts her in league with the best. She plays upbeat and very danceable Cajun waltzes, two-steps and even an occasional zydeco number in a driving, dance hall style that compels one to move around the dance floor.

    FolkFire/Focal Point Fusion

    Beginning in September, 1999, FolkFire will have a new Focal Point calendar pull out section in the center of the edition. The printing and distribution of the six annual Focal Point calendar mailings will be handled through FolkFire newsletter. Focal Point is joining forces with FolkFire to simplify their mailing and cut down on their volunteer work load. Our readers will be getting more information about area folk music and dance events. Through this cooperative effort FolkFire and Focal Point will continue to forge a friendly future together.

    Dance Mistress

    Deborah Hyland is a Civil War re-enactor of sorts, but she doesn’t carry a musket, she doesn’t ride a horse or fire a cannon. She is a dance mistress, and will be calling the dance at the Grand Ball scheduled in the Nichols Park Pavilion in Jacksonville, Illinois on June 19, at 8 p.m. as part of General Grierson Days. She is a highly-regarded dance authority from St. Louis and will be making the trip to Jacksonville to show weary warriors, camp followers and anyone interested in dance how to properly execute the dances that were popular in the mid-nineteenth century. She has been teaching dance to a wide variety of audiences in the St. Louis area and beyond since 1991. She has instructed Civil War dancing at a variety of re-enactments, balls and battles including Columbia, Missouri, Pittsfield, Illinois and at Jacksonville for Grierson Days. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, itinerant dance masters traveled the country providing lessons in dance and etiquette, stopping in towns for a few weeks to teach the latest dances such as the Lancers Quadrille and to remind young gentlemen and ladies of the finer points of deportment. Deborah Hyland is the twentieth century counterpart of those itinerant dance masters and has coaxed hundreds of beginners toward successful dance experiences. Each dance is taught before the music begins, with demonstrations added if necessary, and then the dance is “called” to the music, providing prompts for the dancers as they perform a quadrille, a Grand March, or the ever-popular Virginia Reel. While the dance mistress, the band, and many of the dancers will appear in period costume, all visitors are welcome to dance. Styles of costume and dance can range from a formal ball to the more relaxed style of a country dance.

    (Past-tense schedule omitted as irrelevant)