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Canray Fontenot

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Biography

Canray Fontenot (October 23, 1922 - July 29, 1995) was a Creole fiddler.

Early life

Canray Fontenot was born in L’anse Aux Vaches, Louisiana (or l’Anse des Rougeaux, Louisiana, an unincorporated community outside Eunice, Louisiana) however his family was from Duralde, Louisiana. Fontenot, who grew up working on a family farm, inherited his musical skills from his parents, who played accordion. He first played a cigar-box fiddle that had strings taken off the screen door of his home. His bow was made from the branches of pear trees and sewing thread.

Canray stated “So, we took some cigar boxes,” he said. “In those days, cigar boxes were made of wood. So, we worked at it and finally made ourselves a fiddle. For our strings, we had no real strings … we took strands off the screen door. We made fiddles out of that stuff, and then we started practicing.” Fontenot visited a neighbor “to see how he tuned his fiddle. He would sound a string, and then I would try mine, but I couldn’t go as high as his fiddle; every time I tried to match his pitch, I’d break a string… But then when he would break a string, I would take the longest end. Then my fiddle sounded pretty good. And that’s how I learned. It’s just a matter of having music on your mind.”

Music career

Canray Fontenot and Bois Sec playing at the Newport Folk Festival in 1966. In 1937, Fontenot was invited by Amédé Ardoin to travel to New York and play on his recording of “Les Portes de la Prison.

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