In south Louisiana, being a traditional musician is about more than having a good ear, technical skill or a steady sense of rhythm. Those things are important, yes. But when it comes to excelling at Cajun and Creole music, Louisiana Folk Roots director Jeanne Solis says that true understanding stems from an “appreciation for where the music comes from, and how it feels in the soul and spirit.”

That’s what they aim to teach at Folk Roots Kids Camp, with locations in Lafayette and Opelousas. This week-long summer camp for youth ages 8-14 is focused on traditional music, dance and folklife; with an all-star lineup of instructors including zydeco musician Wayne Singleton and accordionist Chad Huval.

Campers will be introduced to accordions, fiddles, guitars and rub-boards, and daily activities include music classes, jam sessions, singing, dancing, games, and folklife crafts. Acknowledging that dance is an important part of Acadiana’s music culture, the final day of camp features a music showcase and dance party for students and their families.

“We choose intentionally to give the whole experience – music and the environments that are part of our heritage,” says Solis. The Lafayette camp takes place at Vermilionville, and the Opelousas camp will be held at Le Vieux Village, which has one of the oldest Creole cottages in Louisiana.

Louisiana Folk Roots staff see programs like this as a key driver of the region’s cultural economy. “So much of our tourism and economic development is centered around music,” says Solis. “I’m proud to say that the kids camp launches that music workforce pipeline, and has produced folks who’ve gone on to become professional musicians.

She says, “these kids are the future. If we didn’t have this music and dance, we’d just be like everywhere else.”

While helping youth develop a lifelong love for the area’s traditional music is a primary goal of Folk Roots Kids Camp, Solis says that at the end of the day, they just want to help kids have a “good, fun experience with music in their lives” – no matter the genre.

Folk Roots Kids Camp will take place June 10-14 in Lafayette, and June 24-28 in Opelousas. Registration is currently open at Lafolkroots.org.



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