Cléoma Falcon in 1934
May 27, 1906|
Crowley, Louisiana, United States
|Died||April 8, 1941(aged 34)|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, guitarist, vocalist|
|Associated acts||Joe Falcon, The Falcon Trio|
Cléoma Falcon (née Breaux) (May 27, 1906 – April 8, 1941) was an American guitarist and vocalist who, along with her husband Joe Falcon, recorded one of the first known examples of Cajun music. The recording, "Allons à Lafayette" was released in 1928, and opened the way for other commercial releases of Cajun music. Aside from being a ground-breaking recording artist, Cleoma Breaux also was one of the few women to perform live, despite the social standards of the era.
Cléoma Breaux was born on May 27, 1906 in Crowley, Louisiana to an accomplished accordion player, Auguste Breaux, and Mathilde Breaux. Cleoma Breaux and her brothers Amede, Orthy, and Clifford Breaux were all taught as multi-instrumentalists, and began performing for the family's entertainment. Cleoma Breaux was capable of playing a "hard" rhythm guitar style, which was closely related to the preferred technique of later bluegrass guitarists. In addition, Breaux was trained to play the fiddle and accordion, though she never recorded with the two instruments. In 1917, Breaux's father abandoned the family, which drove them into poverty, and resulted in the family depending on performances at dance halls for the majority of their income. In 1921, Breaux married to a local musician, Oliver Hall, however, it was relatively short and the two divorced within a year.
In the mid-1920s, Breaux was joined by accordion player Joe Falcon in performing. The two also began a relationship with one another and would later marry in 1931, while adopting a child named Loula. In 1928, politician and music enthusiast, George Burrs hoped to capitalize on the group's popularity on the dance hall circuit, and negotiated a deal with Columbia Records to record the trio which included vocalist Leon Meche. On April 27, 1928, the musical trio arrived at the recording company's satellite studio in New Orleans. Initially, record executives withdrew the offer per reasoning, as Falcon recalled, "They used to record with big orchestras. They looked at us and said that is not enough music to make a record". Nonetheless, Burrs convinced them otherwise and Breaux and Falcon, without Meche who was too nervous to perform, recorded a test of "Lafayette (Allon a Luanfette)". The song was redone and released along with "The Waltz That Carried Me to My Grave". Not only did the recordings mark the first time Cajun music entered the music marketplace, but it was one of the few instances that a woman took part in the process.
Though Breaux was not credited on the recording, the novelty of a female musician in a male-dominated music scene enhanced the group's popularity on the dance hall circuit. Breaux challenged social norms by retaining a feminine appearance and obstinate position the typically violent settings the venues brought. In August 1929, Breaux and Falcon were invited to Columbia Records' headquarters in New York City to record six sides, including the now-classic "The Old Drunkard and His Wife", a reworking of the folk song, "My Good Old Man". Falcon and Breaux shared vocals, but Breaux held sole singing duties on another side, "Marie Buller". In April 1929, Falcon, Breaux, and her two brothers, Amede and Orphy Breaux, as accompanists recorded in Atlanta. In this session, Breaux was more prominent as a lead vocalist, both on Falcon and her brothers' separate takes. However, with the effects of The Great Depression being a prime factor, the duo did not enter the recording studio for the next five years. Their next recording session was on August 8, 1934 for Decca Records. The duo began experimenting with blues and country music, and also marked a period where they only needed to depend on their music careers for funds.
However, Breaux unexpectedly died at the age of 34. Her husband would never record again in response to her death and that he felt the recording industry misrepresented the duo during their careers.
This section is a list of records that she has appeared in.
- Joseph F. Falcon & Clemo Breaux (April 27, 1928)
- Cléoma Breaux With Joe Falcon & Orphy Breaux (April 18, 1929)
- Falcon Trio (February 20, 1936)
- Cleoma B. Falcon – A Cajun Music Classic (LP-101 Jadfel Records, 1983)
- Cajun Vol. 1 - Abbeville Breakdown: 1929-1939 (CK 46220 Columbia Records, 1990)
- Cajun Dance Party: Fais Do-Do (CK 46784 Columbia Legacy, 1994)
- Cajun: Early Recordings (JSP7726 JSP, 2004)
- Cajun - Rare & Authentic (JSPCD77115 JSP, 2008)
- List of songs recorded by Cléoma Falcon
- List of people related to Cajun music
- History of Cajun music
- Jim Bradshaw (December 29, 1998). "Joe and Cléoma Falcon were first to record Cajun music". Lafayette (LA) Daily Advertiser. Retrieved October 15, 2009.
- "Louisiana descendants of Cristobal FALCON Sr. of the Canary Islands". Retrieved October 15, 2009.
- Alfured, Janet (2009). "Louisiana Women: Their Lives and Times". University of Georgia Press. pp. 237–245.
- Bresseuax, Ryan (1993). "Cajun Breakdown: The Music of New Orleans". Oxford University Press. pp. 49–51.
- "Breaux Cleoma Falcon". musicrising.tulane.edu. Retrieved July 10, 2015.
- "Joe Falcon and Cleoma Breaux Falcon". pbs.org. Retrieved July 10, 2015.
- Country Music Records Discography
- "The Isleños of Louisiana". Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2009-10-18.
- on YouTube