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Blackie Forestier

Ledel "Blackie" Forestier worked at a number of varied professions over the course of his life, but no matter what job he labored at, music remained one of his primary interests. As a young teenager, he worked for a time on a rice farm. He moved on to training cutting horses, and later worked his way up to the position of chief investigator for the district attorney in Louisiana's Jefferson Davis Parish. Forestier, an accordion player, led the Cajun dance band Blackie Forestier & the Cajun Aces since 1957. He has been inducted into both the Louisiana Cajun Music Hall of Fame and the Cajun French Music Association Hall of Fame. In 1974, Forestier and his band performed at the inaugural Festival Acadiens held in the city of Lafayette. For almost 40 years, his accordion could be heard in Louisiana dancehalls. For a short time beginning in 1979, he took a break from performing, worn down by the demands of playing nights and holding down a day job. He reversed his decision by the mid-'80s.



Forestier was born in Saint Landry Parish in Louisiana, in a town now called Cankton. At the time of his birth, however, it was named Coulée Crouche. During his youth he resided on Pine Island, where the crops he farmed included sweet potatoes, corn, and cotton. Despite the hard work demanded by life on a farm, Forestier still had energy and time to spare when it came to his interest in the accordion, although he didn't own one of the instruments. An older sibling had one, but Forestier wasn't supposed to play it. Finally, after the future bandleader had served in the Armed Forces and returned home, his brother granted him a period of several weeks during which he was permitted to play the instrument.



During this time, one of Forestier's friends offered him a Sterling accordion for the price of $125. He lacked the funds, but his brother advanced him the money and he was soon the proud owner of his own instrument. His first paying gig came along in 1957, when he and a few friends were hired by a Houston oil company. That was the first time he billed himself and his band as Blackie Forestier & the Cajun Aces, a name that stuck for decades until the accordionist passed away in 2001. His cut of the fee for playing at the oil company's event enabled him to pay back the money spent on his accordion. He and his band put out "Big Pine Waltz," their debut single from La Louisianne Records, in 1967. ~ Linda Seida
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