A Collaborative Musical Ethnography
by Bruce Sunpie Barnes & Rachel Breunlin
with Original Songs and Arrangements
by Bruce Sunpie Barnes and Leroy Joseph Etienne
& Artwork by Francis X. Pavy
For hundreds of years in South Louisiana, lullabies were hummed, prayers were called, opera was performed, la las were danced, and work and carnival songs were sung in Creole. A francophone language with connections to West Africa, Louisiana Creole is now one of the most endangered languages in the world.
Inside this book, you will find 15 original and traditional Creole songs that cross time and genres ranging from dedications to maroon leader Juan San Malo and African spirits, blues, zydeco two-steps, and traditional jazz, as well as a song from the Northside Skull and Bone Gang. The accompanying essays draw on ethnography from New Orleans and southwest Louisiana, in-depth interviews with Creole speakers and their descendents, and photogaphs, original artwork, and archival documents to share the history, politics, ethos and spirituality, connected to the music and language. It includes an introduction to the history and grammar of Creole and how it is connected to other parts of the Caribbean and Africa. The book concludes with the Creole lyrics to each song, along with their English translations. Avek ye, vou ve 'koute, lir, chante, epi pale a Creole. (With them, you will listen, read, sing, and speak in Creole).
Produced by L'Union Creole, the Neighborhood Story Project, the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park, and Preservation Hall.