Queen Ida

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Queen Ida
Birth nameIda Lee Lewis
Born (1929-01-15) January 15, 1929 (age 90)
Lake Charles, Louisiana, U.S.
Occupation(s)Accordionist, record producer
Years active1975—present
LabelsGNP Crescendo
WebsiteQueen Ida

Ida Lewis "Queen Ida" Guillory (born January 15, 1929) is a Louisiana Creole accordionist.[1] She was the first female accordion player to lead a zydeco band.[citation needed] Queen Ida's music is an eclectic mix of R&B, Caribbean, and Cajun, though the presence of her accordion always keeps it traditional.[citation needed]


Queen Ida & her Bon Temps Zydeco Band concert ticket, 1993

Born Ida Lee Lewis to a musical family of rice farmers in Lake Charles, Louisiana, United States,[1] her family were Louisiana Creole people and her first language is French.[2] Her family moved to Beaumont, Texas, when she was ten and eight years later moved to San Francisco, California.[1] While her mother was an accordion player, women were not expected to play in public, and Queen Ida learned mostly from her brother Al Lewis, later known as Al Rapone. After marrying she raised her children and worked as a bus driver but occasionally sat in with her brother's Zydeco band, also cooking Louisiana cuisine for the band members. She was dubbed "Queen Ida" after being chosen queen of a Mardi Gras celebration.[2][3][4] A year after her first appearance on stage Queen Ida and the Bon Temps Band signed with the record label GNP/Crescendo,[1] and her first record Play the Zydeco demonstrated her style combining Zydeco with a Tex Mex sound.[4]

Queen Ida and her band played at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1976 and 1988, and the San Francisco Blues Festival in 1975, 1978, and 1991.[citation needed] In 1988, Queen Ida toured Japan, becoming the first zydeco artist to do so. She toured Africa the following year and in 1990 went to Australia and New Zealand.[citation needed]

On the album Back on the Bayou (1999), Queen Ida got together on the bayou in Louisiana with her brother, Al Rapone, for a zydeco reunion.[citation needed] Rapone often wrote and produced for her and formed the Bon Temps Zydeco Band, which later became Queen Ida's backup group.[1] Doubling up on accordions with her oldest son Myrick "Freeze" Guillory, they are joined by Terry Buddingh on bass, James Santiago on guitar, Bernard Anderson on saxophone, Erik Nielsen on drums, and her youngest daughter Ledra Guillory and son Ron "The Rock" Guillory on rub board and vocals.[citation needed] As "Queen Ida and the Bon Temps Zydeco Band," the ensemble was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live on November 23, 1985, with Paul Reubens as host.

Queen Ida also co-authored a cookbook, Cookin' with Queen Ida in 1990, which featured Creole recipes.[citation needed]

Queen Ida continued to perform live through the 2000s, and though she did not release any albums during this period, she has joined her son Myrick and his band onstage. She officially retired from playing in 2010 and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she enjoys cooking for her friends and family.

She is a recipient of a 2009 National Heritage Fellowship awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts, which is the United States' highest honor in the folk and traditional arts.[5]

Selected discography[edit]

Year Title Genre Label
1999 Back on the Bayou w/Al Rapone Zydeco GNP Crescendo - GNPD 2265
1995 Cookin' with Queen Ida Zydeco GNP Crescendo - GNPD 2197
1995 On a Saturday Night Zydeco GNP Crescendo - GNPD 2172
1994 Mardi Gras Zydeco GNP Crescendo - GNPD 2227
1990 Zydeco a La Mode Zydeco GNP Crescendo - GNP 2112
1985 Caught in the Act Zydeco GNP Crescendo - GNPD 2181
1983 In San Francisco Zydeco GNP Crescendo - GNPD 2158
1982 Queen Ida and the Bon Temps Zydeco Band on Tour Zydeco GNP Crescendo - GNPD 2147
1980 Queen Ida and the Bon Temps Zydeco Band in New Orleans Zydeco GNP Crescendo - GNPS 2131
1977 Uptown Zydeco Zydeco GNP Crescendo
1977 Zydeco a la mode Zydeco GNP Crescendo - GNPS 2112
1976 Play the Zydeco Zydeco GNP Crescendo - GNPS 2101


Grammy Awards[edit]

Won: 1[6]
Nominations: 4

1980 Best Ethnic or Traditional Recording Queen Ida and the Bon Temps Zydeco Band in New Orleans Zydeco Nominated
1982 Best Ethnic or Traditional Folk Recording Queen Ida and the Bon Temps Zydeco Band on Tour Zydeco Won

Blues Music Awards[edit]

Won: 4[7]
Nominations: 6

Queen Ida Blues Music Awards History
Year Category Result
1983 Traditional Blues Female Artist Nominated
1984 Traditional Blues Female Artist Nominated
1988 Traditional Blues Female Artist Nominated
1989 Traditional Blues Female Artist Won
1990 Traditional Blues Female Artist Won
1991 Traditional Blues Female Artist Nominated


  1. ^ a b c d e Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. p. 987. ISBN 1-85227-745-9.
  2. ^ a b "NEA National Heritage Fellowships: "Queen" Ida Guillory". Arts.gov. National Endowment for the Arts. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  3. ^ Mark F. DeWitt (2008). Cajun and Zydeco Dance Music in Northern California: Modern Pleasures in a Postmodern World. University Press of Mississippi. ISBN 1604730900.
  4. ^ a b Michael Tisserand (2013). The Kingdom of Zydeco. Skyhorse Publishing, Inc. ISBN 978-1559704182.
  5. ^ "NEA National Heritage Fellowships 2009". Arts.gov. National Endowment for the Arts. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  6. ^ "Queen Ida, artist". Grammy.com. Recording Academy. 2017. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  7. ^ "You searched for handys.php". Blues.org. Retrieved October 3, 2019.

External links[edit]