Emile Waagenaar

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Biography

Emile Waagenaar was born in The Hague, the Netherlands, into a very musical family. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Breda, the Netherlands, where he earned a master’s degree with high honors in Photography and Audio Visual Design. Waagenaar has traveled to Louisiana a number of times over the past 30 years to photograph the state. In 2010, the Smithsonian Institution added 64 of Waagenaar’s Cajun musician portraits to their permanent collection.

 


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Arrête pas la musique!: Portraits of South Louisiana

From the "Introduction":

I first stood on Louisiana soil in Lafayette during May of 1982. There, I found myself standing at the crossroads of another culture. Shortly after, I heard about a Clifton Chenier gig scheduled for the next day at the Grant Street Dancehall. Clifton was very ill and could not perform that night, so Rockin’ Dopsie filled in. That evening someone gave me Ambrose Thibodeaux’s name and address written on a paper napkin. This is how it went every trip I took—acquiring names of musicians scribbled on little pieces of paper or cardboard beer coasters. . . . .

This is my story—how I discovered Cajun music and its musicians. Several times I went back; time and again I was surprised by the cultural endurance of this relatively small group of people. Both old and young keep their history alive through a simple bond—the culture, the language, and the songs of their ancestors. . . . This is not a historical document about these people and their music, and it is far from complete when it comes to even musicians. These images instead record my journey into a culture that continually captivates me.

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