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Lemon tree planted for Amede Ardoin in Baton Rouge

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Posted at 3:01 PM, Mar 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-12 16:01:30-04

A lemon tree and plaque were dedicated to musician Amédé Ardoin yesterday in Baton Rouge.

The ceremony was aheld on Ardoin's birthday. Ardoin was one of Louisiana’s first Creole, Cajun, and Zydeco recording artists, singer, and accordionist. Ardoin is credited with creating the framework for Cajun, Creole, and Zydeco music’s evolution in the early 1900’s.

With his signature high voice and accordion, he composed dance tunes and mournful ballads, many considered Zydeco standards today. To soothe his vocal chords, Ardoin always carried a lemon. In his honor, attendees planted the lemon tree and dedicated a plaque on the north side of A. Z. Young Park.

Nungesser said he was inspired to share Amédé Ardoin’s story and commemorate his life in the shadows of the State Capitol for visitors to learn more about him and his music.

“Amédé made a significant impact on how people identify with Louisiana through our uniquely festive music that celebrates the passion and cultural diversity of our state,” said Lt. Governor Nungesser. “He is one of the most prominent figures in bringing awareness of our music of those outside of Acadiana at a time when the recording industry was just beginning to offer the old 78rpm recording to mass audiences. He made 34 recordings in New Orleans, San Antonio, and later New York. Little did he realize how many would be influenced by his music and for what is now a huge industry gaining popularity worldwide.”

Ardoin spoke only French, and could not read or write. Many are not aware of what he accomplished through the unique genre of music for which Louisiana is known. Additionally, he crossed many barriers in the 1920’s through the early 1940’s as a touring performer playing where ever he could, on porches and dance halls. His untimely and tragic death at age 44 after a racially-motivated beating led to the family’s tireless efforts to keep Amédé’s music and legacy alive.

The talent of the Ardoin family continues today. Performing at the ceremony was accordionist Sean Ardoin, a relative of Amédé and two-time Grammy nominee. Speakers included East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome; Herman Fuselier, St. Landry Tourist Commission Executive Director; Patricia Cravins, educator, author, actress, and co-founder of Bring Amédé Home; and, Celeste Gomez, former St. Landry Parish Tourist Commission Executive Director, who led a dedication of a statue to Ardoin in St. Landry Parish on March 11, 2018.