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Traditional Music Program Features Songwriters, New Courses in the Spring

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UL Lafayette will be offering several Cajun and Creole music courses in Spring 2012, including one in songwriting.

“ We are pleased to be able to employ local musicians both as instructors and as artists –in-residence this semester,” says Dr. Mark F. DeWitt, professor of music and holder of the Dr. Tommy Comeaux Endowed Chair in Traditional Music.

Classes begin on Wednesday, Jan. 11. For information on registering, contact University College at 337-482-6729 or universitycollege@louisiana.edu. For questions concerning course content and prerequisites, email DeWitt at dewitt@louisiana.edu.

Kristi Guillory, M.A., accordionist with Bonsoir Catin, will be teaching two courses Tuesdays and Thursdays: a music history class, MUS 360 “Cajun and Zydeco Music” (12:30-2 p.m.), and a hands-on class for beginning accordionists, MUS 329 (2-3:15 p.m.; students must have their own C accordion).

Al Berard, multi-instrumentalist and singer perhaps best known for his work with the Basin Brothers, will be offering an intermediate class for fiddlers (MUS 328), also offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5-6:15 p.m. Students must have their own fiddle, and permission of instructor (obtainable the first day of class) will be required for those who did not take MUS 327.

Wilson Savoy, leader of the Pine Leaf Boys, will again be directing the Traditional Music Ensemble (AMUS 160). Auditions will take place the first week of classes and a rehearsal time will then be set.

UL Lafayette will be offering a songwriting course for the first time this spring (MUS 319, Mondays and Wednesdays 5-6:15 p.m.). DeWitt will be teaching the class and bringing in four songwriters-in-residence to help inspire the students in their creative work. Students without the music theory prerequisite (MUS 130) must see DeWitt before or on the first day of class for a possible waiver.

David Egan has written songs performed by Jimmy Witherspoon, John Mayall, Mavis Staples, Irma Thomas, Percy Sledge, Solomon Burke, Joe Cocker, Etta James and others on several Grammy-recognized albums. Egan played keyboards in the band Filé and now performs solo and with Lil Band o Gold.

Once hailed as “zydeco’s best young songwriter,” in the last 20-plus years Nathan Williams Sr. has gone on to record seven albums with Rounder Records and to take his band the Zydeco Cha Chas all over the world. Williams was recently named the 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient by the Zydeco Music Awards.

Sam Broussard left Louisiana in the 1970s with a major label contract and a reputation as a guitarist; he eventually returned home with equally impressive songwriting skills. In addition to his exquisite singer/songwriter releases Geeks (2000) and Veins (2009), Broussard wrote the regional hit “Bon Rêve” for Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys (for whom he plays lead guitar), and says that he “once lived a year off of royalties writing for Eurostar Stephan Eicher.”

In just a few years, Yvette Landry has risen quickly in Lafayette music circles, first playing bass with the Lafayette Rhythm Devils, Bonsoir Catin and other bands, then recording her own solo album Should Have Known in 2010. Offbeat Magazine recently nominated this album of all original material for Country Album of the Year, and Landry for Country Artist of the Year, among its Best of the Beat awards.

During the last week of classes (April 23-27), a public singer/songwriter performance will be held featuring these artists-in-residence along with students from the songwriting class.