Louisiana Hall of Famer, television and movie performer, and world-renowned Cajun fiddler player: These words describe musician Hadley J. Castille.
Born and bred in Southwest Louisiana in St. Landry Parish, Castille has been immersed in the music of his culture from the cradle to the dancehall bandstand. His uncle, Cyprien Castille, taught him to play the fiddle when he was a young boy. He has been playing his fiddle ever since at dances and festivals, such as the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and the Festivale Internationale in Lafayette. A crowd-pleaser, Castille has a warm and enthusiastic stage presence, exemplifying the renowned joie de vivre of Cajun people. He is aided by a fine array of musicians, including his son Blake Castille. Together, they compose many of the songs the band performs.
Hadley Castille has taken his high-energy traditional sound all around the world. Canadians are enthused to hear the music of the people who once lived in their country in the far reaches of Nova Scotia. Europeans cannot help but dance to the joyous music, which has even found its way onto film scores. They love him in America, especially in the Acadian enclaves of Louisiana. Castille's fiddle can be heard in Dirty Rice and Clint Eastwood's A Perfect World. Castille has made numerous television appearances and played his fiddle in the documentary A Man and His Dog about celebrated Blue Dog artist George Rodrique. One of Castille's proudest accomplishments is his band's collaboration with the Acadian Symphony Orchestra. Together they performed a concerto in three movements based on Cajun folk songs that tell of the Acadian migration from Canada and the oppression of the British to the fertile wetlands of Louisiana.
Castille has recorded numerous CDs, including Along the Bayou Teche (1997), La Musique de Les Castilles (1995), Cajun Swamp Fiddler (1993), and 200 Lines: I Must Not Speak French (1991).
The title of the last-mentioned CD is a reference to the punishment meted out to Cajun children when they spoke their native language at schools in Louisiana. It was only recently that the Cajun culture, so admired today, has emerged from a cloud of oppression and shame as the dominant culture tried to suppress the unique ways of the people of Acadiana. It is a story that occurred not only in Louisiana, but also in Canada when the British tried to force the Old World's French settlers to give up their native language; the Acadians left instead. Therefore, the song 200 Lines, I Must Not Speak French struck a deep chord with French-speaking people in Cajun country and was a source of pride when Castille won a Cajun French Music Association Heritage Award for it. This is the music of a culture that has suffered oppression but has emerged prouder and stronger than ever. Hadley Castille is an ardent supporter of his heritage, sharing his love for his people through his music. ~ Rose of Sharon Witmer