Thursday, May 6, 2021

"La Valse De La Rosa" - Leo Soileau

Leo Soileau was one of the dominant Cajun musicians of the 1930s and early '40s. His more than 100 recordings included such influential tunes as "Hackberry Hop," "La Gran Mamou," La Valse De Gueydan," and his greatest hit, "Jolie Blonde." Taught the fiddle by influential Cajun fiddlers Dennis McGee and Sady Courville, Soileau made his recording debut, in 1928, when he joined with accordionist Mayeus Lafleur to record the second Cajun record ever, "He Mon." Following Lafleur's death, nine days later, he teamed with accordionist Moise Robin. He also recorded, in the late '20s, with the Soileau Couzens.2  

Oh chère, promets moi, mais, juste pour moi, jolie fille,
Jusqu'à jour de ta mort, bébé.

Oh chère, moi, j'connais, mais, toi pas venir jusqu'à moi,
Toi pas venir, mais, tu t'sauve* de ton nègre*, bébé.

Oh chère, promets moi de pas m'quitter jusqu'à la mort,
Jolie cœur, pour ton nègre, chère.

Oh chère, moi, j'connais, mais, moi, j'm'en va,
C'est pour te rejoindre, jolie cœur,
Pourquoi-donc tu veux pas d'moi, jolie?
Port Arthur News
Sep 20, 1946

Forming his own band, the Three Aces, with rhythm guitarists Floyd Shreve or Dewey Landry and bassist/drummer Tony Gonzalez in the early '30s, Soileau expanded the group into a quartet, the Four Aces, in 1934. They later became the Rhythm Boys by 1937, backed by piano player Harold "Popeye" Broussard and steel guitarist Julius ‘Papa Cairo’ Lamperez.
2  In his last session with the Four Aces, Leo recorded a version of Joe Falcon's "Aimer Et Perdre" entitled "La Valse De La Rosa" (#17047), a melody he had reworked earlier in his career as "Ce Pas La Pienne Tu Pleur".   It would be his last recorded Cajun piece ever.  Although this marked the end of Leo's recording career, he claimed the reason was because of the onset of WWII.
When the war declared, that's when my contract expired with Decca.1   

Oh dear, promise me, well, (you're) just for me, pretty girl,
Until the day you die, baby.

Oh dear, I know, well, you didn't come to me,
You didn't come, well, you stayed away from your man, baby.

Oh dear, promise me not to leave me until death,
Pretty sweetheart, for your man, dear.

Oh dear, I know, well, I'm leaving,
It's to join you, pretty sweetheart,
So, why do you not want me, pretty girl?

The group continued to perform at the Silver Star Club in Lake Charles for eight years. Shifting to the Showboat Club in Orange, TX and other places like the Harvest Club, the band continued to play together for another two years. Although Soileau and the group appeared frequently on the radio, they never recorded again. In the late '40s, Soileau left music to work with his brothers in a general contracting firm in Ville Platte. He died in August 1980.2  

  3. Lyrics by Martin S

Release Info:
63070-A Chere Liza | Decca 17047 A
63070-A La Valse De La Rosa | Decca 17047 B

Leo Soileau: Louisiana Cajun Music Vol. 7 (Old Timey, 1982)
Cajun Country, Vol. 2, More Hits from the Swamp (JSP, 2005)

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