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Lullabies to Keep Roots Alive

Babies born at a South Louisiana hospital will now leave with a CD of Cajun and Creole lullabies to sing them to sleep.

Je M'Endors album cover art“Je’ M’Endors,” translated to “I’m sleepy” in French, is Lafayette, Louisiana’s way of spreading the Cajun and Creole culture to new generations by providing some of them with their first collection of local songs. The album “Je M’Endors: Cajun and Creole Lullabies” is an upgraded version of a local hospital tradition of playing music over the speakers when a baby is born.

Louisiana Folk Roots teamed up with Lafayette General Medical Center to give free CDs to the next 1,000 babies born at the hospital, beginning October 7. A collection of 14 recordings by a collaboration of 23 artists, the album includes both original and traditional music and can be purchased on the Louisiana Folk Roots website for $15, on iTunes and at the hospital gift shop.

With nine Grammy awards between the 23 artists, the project is also the first official release of new songs by some big names in Cajun music, such as David Greely, Marce Lacouture, Yvette Landry, and Ann Savoy and Jane Vidrine. Zachary Richard also revisits his late-1970s composition “La Berceuse Créole (Créole Lullaby),” while Steve Riley, Richard Comeaux and Yvette Landry perform a swamp pop-tinged version of “Brahms’ Lullaby.”

“We reached out to a broad cross-section of artists, and some wrote new songs on the spot, and others revisited old tunes, recorded previously unreleased material, and even shared new material inspired by much older material,” says Todd Mouton, director of Louisiana Folk Roots. “And of course we featured a variety of material from traditional sources, including the Lomax recordings. From there, we all worked together to weave a compelling sonic tapestry for young ears — and older ones, too.”

The title track “Je M’Endors”  is performed twice on the recording, once with Ann Savoy, Jane Vidrine and cellist Caleb Elliott, and again by David Doucet and Mitch Reed from BeauSoleil, as well as Jimmy Breaux, Terrance Simien, Kristi Guillory and Megan Brown. If Acadiana babies aren’t sleepy after that, they may need to get their ears checked.

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