Christine Balfa Powell honored at governor’s arts awards

LAFAYETTE - Cajun musician and cultural ambassador Christine Balfa Powell has received the Folk Artist of the Year award at the 20th annual Governor’s Arts Awards.

The awards ceremony was held at the Manship Theatre in Baton Rouge in October. The Folk Artist Award is given annually to “a folk artist who has made a significant contribution to his or her artform and to folklife in Louisiana (traditional art forms learned informally - orally or passed down - within an artist’s own traditional culture and not learned through books or classes).”

Born in Basile and currently living in the St. Martinville area, Powell is the daughter of the legendary Cajun musician Dewey Balfa, who, with his band, The Balfa Brothers, was at the forefront of the Cajun cultural renaissance that occurred in the 1960s and beyond. Powell began performing with her father when she was 11 years old and toured extensively with him across the country and abroad.

She was nominated for the award by Louisiana Folk Roots, the cultural preservation organization based in Lafayette, to pay tribute to her tireless efforts to incorporate her family legacy and her own artistic sensibilities into a unique career as a musician, singer and songwriter. Through her music, Powell is able to share her Cajun heritage with appreciative audiences at home and around the world.

Powell and her husband Dirk Powell are members of the popular Cajun band Balfa Toujours, a band Dr. Barry Ancelet of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette has called “the future of Cajun music.” Christine is also a member of the all-female Cajun band Bonsoir, Catin. Known for her driving rhythm on the guitar, her heartfelt singing style and her natural charisma, Powell is one of the most widely-recognized musicians in Louisiana.

As the founding director of Louisiana Folk Roots, Powell was able to make one of her father’s dreams a reality when she established the Dewey Balfa Cajun and Creole Heritage Week (DBCCHW), held each year at Chicot State Park. The year 2009 will mark the 10th anniversary of Louisiana Folk Roots, and the 10th DBCCHW as well. This one-of-a-kind cultural immersion “camp” draws participants from across the state, the country and from several foreign countries and offers a true Louisiana experience like no other event anywhere, including intensive classes with acclaimed local musicians and artists, daily workshops, master artist presentations, and nightly dances to the most renowned Cajun, Creole and zydeco bands in the state.

The DBCCHW is co-hosted by the Louisiana Office of State Parks, and registration for the event was recently opened. Registration forms can be found online on the Louisiana Folk Roots website: www.lafolkroots.org.

Registrations postmarked on or before December 1, 2008, will receive an early bird discount. Information can be obtained by calling Louisiana Folk Roots at 337-234-8360 or by e-mailing info@lafolkroots.org.

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