Leo Soileau

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Leo Soileau
Born (1904-01-19)January 19, 1904[1]
Ville Platte, Louisiana, United States[1]
Died August 2, 1980(1980-08-02)[1][2]
Ville Platte, Louisiana, United States[3]
Genres Cajun
Occupation(s) Fiddler
Instruments Cajun fiddle
Labels Victor, Vocalion, Decca, Bluebird
Associated acts Three Aces, Four Aces, Soileau Couzens, Rhythm Boys

Leo Soileau (January 19, 1904 – August 2, 1980)[1][2][3] was one of the most prolific Cajun recording artists of the 1930s and 1940s, recording over 100 songs, which was a substantial amount considering the reluctance to record the music during its early stages. He is known as the second person to record a Cajun record and the first to record this genre with a fiddle.[4]

Family[edit]

Born January 19, 1904 in Ville Platte, Louisiana Soileau started playing music at 12 years old and made a few dollars each night.[5]

Music and career[edit]

After Joe Falcon's recording of "Allons a Lafayette" became a hit, record companies were interested in finding other talent. A jeweler, Frank Deitlein of Opelousas, Louisiana, convinced Victor Records to record Soileau and Mayeus Lafleur of Basile, Louisiana and in October 18, 1928, they recorded four songs with Victor in Atlanta, Georgia.[2][3] With Soileau on fiddle and Mayeus on vocal and accordion, their recording of "Mama, Where You At?" (also referred to as "Chere Mom") became the most influential, mainly due to Lafleur's lyrics describing his longing for his mother.[6] After Lafleur was killed in a quarrel over moonshine, gunned down by a stray bullet[7] at a honky-tonk bar in Basile[2] just nine days after the recording,[6] Soileau began recording for Victor and Vocalion with fellow accordionist Moise Robin of Arnaudville, Louisiana the following year.[3][4] The next month, he teamed up with his cousin, Alius Soileau[3][8] of Eunice, Louisiana, and recorded four more songs as the duo "Soileau Couzens" in New Orleans as well as with accordionist Oscar "Slim" Doucet.[1][9] The following day, he would record with Wilfred Fruge.[5]:142 After the depression, he continued to play dances throughout Louisiana and Texas.[2]

In 1934, he started a group called the Three Aces[2][8] with Floyd Shreve on guitar or Bill Dewey Landry on guitar and Tony Gonzales on drums. Without the accordion, the sound would be country influenced. Soileau would begin recording for Bluebird Records and a major part of inspiration came from western swing, blues, ragtime, and fiddle music of Texas. The following year, he would sign with Decca Records, travel to Chicago, and change the name to the Four Aces.[3][4] He would record again for Decca in New Orleans in 1936 and Dallas in 1937. After the Four Aces broke away as a separate band, Soileau played with a group he called the Rhythm Boys.[2]

Soileau recorded Cajun music until the start of World War II until Decca decided to stop recording Cajun artists.[4] He continued to perform with his group The Rhythm Boys at places such as the Silver Star in Lake Charles, Louisiana, Showboat in Orange, Texas and Lighthouse in Port Arthur, Texas, until the end of the decade when in 1953 he retired playing music.[3][4][10] Soileau made frequent broadcasts over KVOL in Lafayette, Louisiana, KPLC in Lake Charles, Louisiana and KWKH in Shreveport, Louisiana. He continued working in an oil refinery and as a janitor retiring completely in the late 1960s. He died in 1980.[2]

  • Mom, Where You At?
  • Hackberry Hop
  • La Blues De Port Arthur

Discography[edit]

Compilations[edit]

  • Early Rural String Bands (LPV-552 RCA Victor, 1968)
  • Early American Cajun Music: The Early Recordings of Leo Soileau (2041 Yazoo Records, January 19, 1999)[11]
  • Leo Soileau: Louisiana Cajun Music Vol. 7 (LP125 Arhoolie)
  • Le Gran Mamou: A Cajun Music Anthology - The Historic Victor–Bluebird Sessions 1928–1941 Vol. 1 (CMF-013-D Country Music Foundation, 1990)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Kingsbury, Paul; McCall, Michael; Rumble, John; Orr, Jay (2012). The Encyclopedia of Country Music (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. pp. 470–471. ISBN 978-0195395631. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Broven, John (1983). South to Louisiana: The Music of the Cajun Bayous. Pelican Publishing. pp. 19–22. ISBN 978-0882896083. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Russell, Tony (2010). Country Music Originals: The Legends and the Lost. Oxford University Press. pp. 244–245. ISBN 978-0199732661. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Craig Harris. "Leo Soileau". Retrieved May 9, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Brasseaux, Ryan Andre (2009). "Cajun Breakdown: The Emergence of an American-Made Music". Oxford University Press. p. 64. ISBN 978-0195343069. 
  6. ^ a b "LaFleurLeo Soileau & Meus LaFleur-Chere Mom (October 18, 1928)". Retrieved May 9, 2014. 
  7. ^ Malone, Bill C; Stricklin, David (2003). Southern Music/American Music (2nd ed.). The University Press of Kentucky. p. 61. ISBN 978-0813190556. 
  8. ^ a b Koster, Rick (2002). Louisiana Music: A Journey From R&b To Zydeco, Jazz To Country, Blues To Gospel, Cajun Music To Swamp Pop To Carnival Music And Beyond. Da Capo Press. p. 172. ISBN 978-0306810039. 
  9. ^ McCall, Michael; Rumble, John; Kingsbury, Paul; Gill, Vince (2012). The Encyclopedia of Country Music (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 470. ISBN 978-0195395631. 
  10. ^ Savoy, A.A. (1984). Cajun music: A Reflection of a People v. 1. Bluebird Press. 
  11. ^ "Leo Soileau, "The Early Recordings of Leo Soileau" Early American Cajun Music Classic Recordings From the 1920s". Retrieved May 9, 2014.