Dennis McGee

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Dennis McGee
An image of Dennis McGee holding his violin during an interview with PBS's American Patchwork.
Dennis McGee on PBS's American Patchwork
Background information
Born (1893-01-26)January 26, 1893
Origin Eunice, Louisiana
Died October 3, 1989(1989-10-03) (aged 96)
Genres Cajun
Occupations Musician, fiddler, barber[1]
Instruments Vocals, fiddle
Labels Vocalion

Dennis (Denus) McGee (born January 26, 1893, Eunice, Louisiana, USA – October 3, 1989) was one of the earliest recorded Cajun musicians.

A fiddle player, he recorded and performed with Creole accordionist and vocalist Amédé Ardoin, with accordionist Angelas LeJeune, and with fiddlers Sady Courville and Ernest Frugé. The recordings with Courville and Frugé are among the few surviving examples of Cajun music as it existed before the influence of the accordion became prominent.

McGee's repertoire included not only the waltz and the two-step common to Cajun music but also such dances as the one-step, polka, mazurka, reel, cotillion, the varsovienne, and others.

Early life[edit]

Dennis McGee was the son of John McGee, Sr. who was of Irish ancestry and Amelia, of French and Seminole Indian ancestry.[2] Amelia died when Dennis was two years old.[2] He received his first violin at the age of 14, and started playing dances within 6 months.[2]

Legacy[edit]

Linzay Young sings with Chris Stafford, Joel Savoy, and Tony Davoren at a Courir de Mardi Gras by Dennis McGee's grave.

In the 1970s and 80s, McGee continued to perform with Sady Courville at festivals and special concerts and recorded for various American and French labels including Morningstar, Cinq Planetes, Swallow, and Music of the World.

His records are contemporary with Joe and Cléoma Falcon's. Also, his legacy includes his knowledge of playing older styles of Cajun music before the 1900s, when the accordion was introduced.

Notable recordings[edit]

  • Chère Mama Creole (My Sweet Creole Mama, Vocalion 5319)
  • Madame Young, Give Me Your Sweetest (aka Colinda, Vocalion 5319)
  • Courville and McGee Waltz (Vocalion 5315)
  • Happy One Step (Vocalion 5315)
  • Jeunes Gens Compagnard (Jeune Gens de la Campagne, Vocalion 15848)
  • Adieu Rosa (Vocalion 15840)

Family[edit]

McGee had three wives: Nita Rozas (1910–1911), Marie Young (after 1912), and Gladys Courville (1925).[2] He stayed married to his final wife until she died in 1990.[2] One of his sons, Gerry McGee, is a member of The Ventures.[3]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ancelet 1999, p. 37.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Descendants of Pierre Lejeune, dit Briard". Retrieved 2010-04-27. 
  3. ^ "Gerry McGee". Retrieved 2010-04-27.