The five women who comprise the Magnolia Sisters are not related by birth, but rather by friendship and their love for traditional Cajun music. The band delivers energetic dance music as well as wistful older ballads that come from deep in the roots of Acadiana, as shown by their first recording, Prends Courage, released in 1995 by Arhoolie Records. A second album,Chers Amis, was released by Rounder in 2000, with a third, Après Faire Le Boogie Woogie, appearing in 2004, also from Rounder. Each of the acoustic instrumentalists in this rare all-female Cajun group has strong ties to the genre and plays with other bands as well. Interestingly, only two of the five members are natives of Louisiana.
Ann Savoy, one of the Magnolia Sisters' founders in 1995, is married to Cajun musician Marc Savoy. Husband and wife both play in the Savoy-Doucet Band, which includes Beausoleil's Michael Doucet. Ann Savoy also contributes to other bands. A native of Virginia, she sings and plays accordion, guitar, fiddle, and bass. She is also the author of Cajun Music: A Reflection of a People. The other founder of the Magnolia Sisters, Jane Vidrine, formerly was employed by the National Park Service as a coordinator of folk arts, and her duties required her to explore folk music. She wed John Vidrine in 1984 and, after settling with him in Lafayette, LA, she was employed as the curator of a Cajun museum. Husband and wife both play in a group called Nez-Piqué.
Tina Pilione, Lisa Trahan Reed, and Christine Balfa round out the group. Pilione, who hails from California, plays the fiddle, bass, and mandolin. A Seattle concert given by the Balfa Brothers inspired her to pack her bags and head to Louisiana in 1978. After attending the University of Southwestern Louisiana as a zoology major, she spent several years working for the State of Louisiana before chucking it all to construct accordions with Marc Savoy. She also is part of Jesse Leger & the Lake Charles Ramblers. Reed, who sings and plays the triangle and bass, grew up in the Louisiana town of Scott. Her father is Harry Trahan, a Cajun accordion player, and her great uncle is Cajun musician Bixby Guidry. She and Mitchell Reed, her husband, play with the group Vieux Temps. Balfa, the only other Louisiana native in the bunch, was raised in the town of Tepetate. She contributes vocals and plays the guitar, rubboard, banjo ukulele, and triangle. Her father is Dewey Balfa. Along with Dirk Powell, her spouse, she is part of the band Balfa Toujours. Returning to Arhoolie Records, the Sisters released Stripped Down in 2009 with a lineup of Ann Savoy, Jane Vidrine, Lisa Trahan, and Anya Burgess. ~ Linda Seida