Ethel Mae Bourque review…November 14, 2019….

ETHEL MAE BOURQUE

CHANSONS DE LA CAMPAGNE

NOUVEAU ELECTRIC RECORDS

I SANG FOR A WHOLE WEEK–CHANSON POUR PAPA–SONG FOR PAPA–BEFORE WE HAD ELECTRICITY–THAT OLD BARN–LA PLUS VIELLE–LA BOUTIELLE A RUINE MA VIE–LA RECOLTE–YOU CAN HAVE YOUR GOLD–T LOUIS–ONE OF THESE DAYS–COGNER–RECORDS EN FRANCAIS–LE CAFE CHAUD–PAS EN ANGLAIS–L’OURAGAN DE QUATRE-VINGT-DOUZE–HURRICANE ANDREW–MA JOLIE BLONDE (AVEC LES BOUGRES FAROUCHES–SONG FOR THE COWS–LA CHASSES–COME SIT BY MY SIDE–VIENS T’ASSIR AUPRES DE MOI (AVEC LES BOUGRES FAROUCHES)–LES MARINGOUINS (AVEC LES BOUGRS FAROUCHES)–LA BOUTEILLE A RUINE MA VIE

The Lost Bayou Ramblers, founded by Louis Michot, have been the subject of several reviews within this humble forum, and rightfully so.  They are Grammy winners, and are committed to carry on traditional Louisiana and French Canadian music, written and performed in the spirit in which it was meant to be heard.  A lady named Ethel Mae Bourque grew up next to the Michot family when Louis was a youngster.  She was a strong, independent woman who hunted, fished, and harvested fruit to feed her family.  She also wrote her own original songs and reworked many of the French classics for her own entertainment, but these songs became an inspiration for young Louis.  In 2003, Ethel, then at age 70, recorded twenty-five field recordings that are now compiled in one collection, “Chansons De La Campagne,” loosely translated as “Songs Of The Countryside,” for Nouveau Electric Records.  The songs are done in both English and French.

She begins by telling us that she was sixteen before the family had electricity, One of the English renditions is of “You Can Have Your Gold,” for good friends are worth infinitely more.  “Hurricane Andrew” and the toll it exacted upon her family is a poignant piece, as is “Come And Sit  y My Side Little Darlin,”  Our favorite, tho, was borne of a sad time in Ethel’s life.  Her husband, Sidney, in the last stages of his life, suffered from lung cancer and pneumonia, and the family had no means for hospitalization.  Thus, Sidney’s only measure of comfort was Ethel’s voice.  She alludes that she “sang that song for a week,” which is entitled “Song For Papa.”  It is presented in both English and French.

Ethel Mae Bourque was an unbelievably strong and independent woman, and a true survivor.   Uprooted from her home by Hurricane  Gustav in 2008, she lived out her days near her son in an Arkansas nursing home, where she passed in 2011.  Through the recordings of “Chansons De La Campagne,” and the efforts of the Michot family, Ethel’s legacy lives on.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

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