Music in Chéticamp
Music has always been a very important component of Acadian life in Chéticamp. It reflects our attachment to religion, language, culture, entertainment and history. (Don’t miss Charlie’s DownHome Music Store)
The first songs to come to Chéticamp were most likely brought to the region by settlers coming from France or Québec and were sung from memory. Sometimes, the sound of the violin would accompany the singers, but, more often than not, the songs were sung a capella,(without accompaniment). Even though most people could not afford luxuries such as record players, they made their own music and somehow managed to pass on their songs from generation to generation. Luc Lacourcière, the Acadian folklorist, describes Acadian folklore as one of the richest in the world. Père Anselme Chiasson and Père Daniel Boudreau have been instrumental in saving our Acadian music. They compiled an enormous collection of French songs in books known as Chansons d’Acadie. These songs have been and are still sung today as part of Acadian festivals, concerts, or parties. Many have been recorded by local groups or individuals as well as by other Acadian or Canadian singers.
Co-existence with the Scottish and Gaelic cultures surrounding Cheticamp would quickly bring a new form of music into our homes: the fiddle tune. Our neighbors had also mostly memorized tunes they had heard elsewhere, and the lively nature of the jigs and reels won over many a Cheticamp musician into their ranks. Country music was introduced when radio became popular…way back when. Country songs, both English and French, became very popular and were soon being sung everywhere.
Certain musicians in the region are well-known for keeping tradition alive today. Sylvia LeLièvre and Ronnie Bourgeois have both made their mark on the music scene with their own compositions. They are indeed the pride of the Acadian community of Chéticamp along with Wendell Roache and Glen Roache, who have also released cds of excellent quality. Gérard Romard, Chéticamp’s ‘musical ambassador’ to the Magdalen Islands, continues to entertain locals and visitors with his repertoire of old traditional songs.
Although music has always been an important part of this community’s social life, it is only of late that local musicians have begun recording their own songs and albums. The wave of recordings ‘Made in Cheticamp’ can be directly attributed to the presence of a strong cultural influence: our community radio station. The Coopérative Radio Cheticamp (CKJM) has been in existence since the early 1990’s and the mix of traditional and contemporary Acadian, as well as Scottish fiddle tunes, has served to strengthen the cultural presence in our region. CKJM enjoys the reputation of promoting our local artists at every opportunity. It has also encouraged a new generation to pick up musical instruments and play. Many of these have become well-known and quite popular in the region: Jeannine Chiasson, Marc Boudreau, Nathan LeLièvre, Andrea LeBlanc, the Tremblay family and the group Anonym, have just begun to delight audiences in Chéticamp and elsewhere. It is quite evident that an abundance of musical talent is ready to entertain you when you visit our Acadian region of Chéticamp.