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Homegrown Plus: Sean Ardoin

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In this photo of Sean Ardoin, Sean plays a button accordion outdoors onstage in New Orleans. Photo is accompanied by the Homegrown 2020 logo, which includes the words "Library of Congress American Folklife Center Homegrown 2020 Concert Series, "Homegrown at Home."
Sean Ardoin. Photo courtesy of the artist.

In the Homegrown Plus series, we present Homegrown concerts that also had accompanying interviews, placing both videos together in an easy-to-find blog post. (Find the whole series here!) We’re continuing the series with Sean Ardoin, an American Creole musician and singer. He is grandson of Louisiana Creole music patriarch Alphonse “Bois Sec” Ardoin, son of Creole accordionist and bandleader Lawrence Black Ardoin, and older brother of hip-hop zydeco accordionist Chris Ardoin, with whom he co-led the Zydeco supergroup Double Clutchin’. The family traces its musical lineage to Bois Sec’s older cousin and musical mentor, Amédé Ardoin, an early recording artist who is one of the most important figures in South Louisiana music.

Sean Ardoin is best known for his album Pullin’, whose title song has often been featured on television, and for the 2009 album How Great Is Your Love, which is considered the first notable Christian Zydeco album. His 2018 album Kreole Rock and Soul was nominated for a GRAMMY in the category “Best Regional Roots Music Album,” and Sean was also nominated in the category “Best American Roots Performance” for the song “Kick Rocks.” In 2017 he formed the Kreole Hall of Fame in order to recognize and celebrate the contributions of Creoles from Louisiana and the world.

True to form, in his concert with us, Sean included traditional Creole music, inspirational songs, and music from the genre which many would call zydeco, but which he calls “Kreole Rock and Soul.” See the whole concert in the player below!

During the interview, I talked with Sean about his family history and his career. He gave his perspective on Creole music and culture as an expression of Black creativity in Louisiana. He discussed his dissatisfaction with the term “zydeco,” a word which he believes was imposed on Creole music by whites who misunderstood Creole speech, yet which is still not understood by most white people. He explains his preference for the easily understood “Kreole rock and soul.”

Watch the interview in the player below!

In the interview, we also discussed Sean’s powerful song and video “What Do You See,” which was written in response to the wrongful shooting of Alton Sterling by Baton Rouge police, and which went viral after the murder of George Floyd. The song and video ask the question, “what do you see when you see me?” It points out that for many, the answer will be “all you see is a Black man.”  You can watch “What Do You See” on YouTube at this link.

Sean also talked in the interview about Creole United, a “supergroup” he helped organize, which brought together active, retired, and upcoming Creole musicians of both traditional and emerging styles to collaborate on recording projects and concerts. He particularly mentioned their album Non Jamais Fait, or Never Been Done.  On that topic, we’ve got a bonus video to share. In 2015, Sean played in the Homegrown Concert Series as a member of Creole United. That concert took place in the historic Coolidge Auditorium in the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress. See the video in the player below!

You can find all three of these videos with more bibliographic information on the Library of Congress website, with the Sean Ardoin concert here at this link, the  interview at this link, and the Creole United concert at this link.

Thanks for watching, listening, and reading! The American Folklife Center’s Homegrown Concert Series brings music, dance, and spoken arts from across the country, and some from further afield, to the Library of Congress. For information on current concerts, visit the Folklife Concerts page at Concerts from the Library of Congress. For past concerts, including links to webcasts and other information, visit the Homegrown Concerts Online Archive.

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