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Franco-American ‘Singing School’ with Carmen Beaudoin Bombardier & Kim Chase

17 September 2018
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
TBA location in Burlington area

‘Franco-Americans brought to Vermont a rich heritage of traditional French-language song and a tradition of call-and-response singing which celebrates the joy of making music together’ (Lisa Ornstein)

Young Tradition Vermont and the Vermont Folklife Center with support from the Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership presents a Franco-American ‘singing school’ taught by Carmen Beaudoin Bombardier & Kim Chase.  The class begins on Monday 9/17/18 and runs through 10/29/18 on consecutive Mondays (excluding Columbus Day 10/8/18), from 7pm to 8:30pm, at a TBA Burlington location (those who reserve a spot will receive information about the location).

Carmen Beaudoin Bombardier

There is no cost for taking the class, but space is limited and participants are expected to sign up in advance with a message to mark.sustic@gmail.com, and to commit to attending all 6 classes.

With nearly a quarter of Vermonters (22.3%) of French-Canadian descent, the cultural heritage of Franco-Americans is undeniably a fundamental element of Vermont’s contemporary identity and culture. However, despite the deep integration of the cultural perspectives of Franco-Americans into the everyday life of Vermont, the inaccessibility of French language often presents barriers—including for many Franco-Americans—to wider engagement with one of the richest aspects of Franco-American culture: song.  She has paddled along some of the very rivers and walked the portage trails in Northern Quebec, where many ‘Chansons à Répondre’ evolved, some of which songs will be shared during the class.

Kim Chase

The project includes musician and scholar Lisa Ornstein, and Franco-American singers Carmen Beaudoin Bombardier & Kim Chase who will have identified and selected a group of songs to teach. The project intends to generate a teaching curriculum, song book and website. These resources are designed to help develop ongoing programming to revitalize the sharing of French language song in the state. The project will culminate in performance opportunities, including during the Young Tradition Festival in early May 2019.

Click here for additional information with a link to the project songbook.

Carmen Beaudoin Bombardier is the 2nd daughter of Louis & Julie Beaudoin.  She has been singing French answering songs since she was 4 years old, learning them from her Mom & Dad, aunts, uncles, family and friends, at home parties and get togethers.  During much of the time that Carmen performed with her family, she acted as manager, booking performances, making arrangements, collaborating with other musicians and organizations and attending to the details of each performance.  She has taught French cultures and songs for Artists in Residence programs in schools.  She previously taught songs to French teachers at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts.  She has 40 years of performing experience with La Famille Beaudoin, the Julie Beaudoin Family and the Beaudoin Legacy.  In 2003 her Beaudoin family was honored with the Vermont Heritage Award sponsored by Vermont Life Magazine and the Vermont Folklife Center and presented by the Governor.

Her father, the internationally renowned fiddler, Louis Beaudoin, and her mother, who sang for many years with her family in performances as the famous “La Famille Beaudoin” hosted countless musical “soirées” in their home, so Carmen grew up in a house that was always full of music and dance. In addition to her father’s fiddling and her mother’s great repertoire of traditional French-Canadian songs, most of the other members of Carmen’s extended family were and master musicians and traditional step-dancers. Many well-known musicians were drawn and welcomed to the Beaudoin house and Carmen’s ear became attuned to differences in the personal styles of musicians as well as the different types of fiddle tunes. Immersed as she was in the music and culture, Carmen knows more French-Canadian folksongs than she can count.

Kim Chase is a second-generation, bilingual Franco-American. She is the third daughter of Claire Bouffard Chase, raised in Winooski, active in the French-Canadian Genealogical Society as well as many cultural awareness initiatives, including the Vermont French Cultural Commission and ActFANE (Action for Franco-Americans of New England).  She has been singing French-Canadian folksongs all her life, having learned mostly at home but also with friends and extended family.  She has been a French teacher for over 30 years and has taught every age from preschool through college.  She has always incorporated music into her teaching.  She is also a writer and translator, and has published essays, short fiction, articles, poetry and translations for many years. She has been a grant-writer for Franco-American cultural awareness programs and has won several grants for her own work in gathering oral histories, songs and stories.  She has paddled along some of the very rivers and walked the portage trails in Northern Quebec, the place of origin of the ‘Chansons à Répondre’, one of the songs that will shared during the class.

Lisa Ornstein

Fiddler and folklorist Lisa Ornstein fell in love with Franco-American music as a teenager when she met and was befriended by Louis Beaudoin and his family. That deep and enduring friendship set her on the path which eventually took her to Quebec for twelve years where she was a member of La Bottine Souriante (Quebec’s traditional music supergroup) and also received an M.A. in Folklore from Université Laval. Over the course of her graduate studies, she collaborated with Canadian folksong scholars on a number of books and recordings of traditional French-language song, including Marc Gagné’s Chantons la chanson and Georges Arsenault’s Complaintes acadiennes de l’Île-de-Prince-Édouard. She also has considerable experience in public sector folklore doing community outreach with the goal of rendering archival materials useful to their heritage communities. During her seventeen-year tenure as director of the Acadian Archives at the University of Maine at Fort Kent, she developed award-winning programs in conjunction with the Franco-American community of northern Maine to disseminate, celebrate, and perpetuate local traditional songs.

An article in Vermont History highlights the important role that French-speaking immigrants from Quebec played in Vermont and New England. Scholar Leslie Choquette documents the immigration patterns between 1840 and 1930 of tens of thousands of immigrants. This story was featured recently on Brave Little State and was the subject of an international conference at UVM. There is an annotated bibliography on related research and writings.

more info about the project www.youngtraditionvermont.org/2018/05/franco-american-cultural-heritage-project/

Seven Days article about the project www.sevendaysvt.com/vermont/vermont-singers-aim-to-revitalize-franco-american-music/Content?oid=16877038

more info about Vermont Folklife Center www.vermontfolklifecenter.org

more info about Young Tradition Vermont www.youngtraditionvermont.org