Amadé Ardoin (sometimes spelt Amedé) was the great-grandson of a slave and was born in Louisiana in 1896.  He was the first Creole to be recorded, and he is best remembered for his resonating, high-pitched vocals and sizzling-hot accordion playing. For many he was one of greatest, if not the greatest single influence on the development of zydeco music, that fusion of the blues with French folk.  As a child Ardoin moved around the Cajun areas of south-west Louisiana with his family working on farms and picking up musical techniques on the fiddle and accordion from fellow workers. He became a frequent performer at dances, playing mostly for white audiences. In his teens, Ardoin moved frequently, working for sharecroppers for room and board, whilst earning extra cash by performing. He joined up with Dennis McGee, a white fiddler, and they became one of the first bi-racial Cajun duos. Ardoin and McGee made their recording debut in December 1929 in New Orleans, returning the next year to cut further tracks.


Two more recording sessions were to follow, one in Texas, and finally in New York in 1934. Although Ardoin only recorded 30 tunes, his compositions have been included in the repertoire of all Cajun and zydeco bands since, and in the 1950’s Iry LeJeune helped launch a revival in Cajun music when he recorded twelve of Ardoin's songs. Towards the end of the 1930’s Ardoin teamed up with fiddler Sady Courville but they never recorded together. Amadé Ardoin died in 1941 aged 45 and some mystery still surrounds his death. Some reports claimed that he was murdered by white supremacists, whilst Dennis McGhee claimed that he was poisoned by an envious fellow performer. Recent research suggest that it is more likely that he died of venereal disease in a Louisiana mental hospital.