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 his wife Mathilde Breaux. Cléoma Breaux and her brothers Amedée, Orphy, and Clifford Breaux were all taught as multi-instrumentalists, and began performing for the family's entertainment. Cléoma 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, driving them into poverty, with the result that for the majority of their income, the family depended on performances at dance halls. In 1921, Breaux married to a local musician, Oliver Hall; however, it was a relatively short marriage and the two divorced within a year.
In the mid-1920s, Breaux was joined in performing by accordion player Joe Falcon. The two also began a relationship with each other 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 because, 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 (Allons à Luafette)". 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 where 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 solo singing duties on another side, "Marie Buller". In April 1929, Falcon, Breaux, and her two brothers, Amedée and Orphy Breaux, as accompanists recorded in Atlanta. In this session, Breaux was more prominent as a lead vocalist, on both Falcon's 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 enjoyed a period where all they needed to depend on for funds was their music careers.
However, Breaux died unexpectedly at the age of 34. In response to her death, her husband would never record again and said that he felt the recording industry had 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. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. 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