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Queen Ida retired in 2010, but the 84-year-old grande dame of zydeco will take the stage at a Saturday concert in Lake Charles. (Special to the American Press)<br>

Queen Ida retired in 2010, but the 84-year-old grande dame of zydeco will take the stage at a Saturday concert in Lake Charles. (Special to the American Press)

Ida will be homecoming queen at Saturday concert

Last Modified: Thursday, April 25, 2013 10:46 AM

By Cliff Seiber / American Press

Queen Ida is looking forward to coming “home.”

Though the 84-year-old grande dame of zydeco on the West Coast and around the world left Southwest Louisiana as a child, she still considers it home.

“It’s been a while,” she said in a telephone interview with the American Press last week. Though she was here about two years ago to visit family, it has been “quite a while” since she has come as a musician. Queen Ida occasionally comes to Lake Charles to visit relatives, particularly cousins in the Sims and Paul families.

Ida Lewis Guillory will appear with Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience at the Central School Arts and Humanities Center at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 27. She plans to sing with the band but will not shoulder her famous accordion.

“I had both my rotator cuffs operated on,” she said. “And I don’t want to go through another surgery.” She said the worst part was the physical therapy afterward.

“But you work at it and then one day you raise your arm, and (your range of motion) has come back.”

A manager once told her he would build her a table at the right height to hold her accordion so she could play.

“I told him that would never work, because with accordion, you have to move,” she said.

She retired in 2010 at age 81.

The concert will also feature an on-stage discussion of her life and career.

She was born Ida Lewis in 1929 and lived on her father’s rented rice farm about 10 miles outside Lake Charles. When she was a girl, her family moved to Beaumont, Texas, where her dad’s farming operation continued to prosper. Then, when she was 18, the family moved to the Bay Area.

She played the 31-key diatonic accordion that Germans, the Irish and Acadians all claim credit for bringing to the United States. It is also prominent in Mexican music. It was only after she was married and living in the San Francisco area that she picked up the Hohner accordion left by her father. She started playing for family gatherings and later private parties within the Louisiana Creole community in the Bay Area. Only then did she think of a career in music.

And what a career it was. In the years up to her retirement, she recorded eight albums and received awarded several awards, including a Grammy and six Blues Music Awards. In 2009 she was named a National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts.

With the title came a formal awards ceremony in the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. After the presentation, everyone walked to the Library of Congress for dinner.



If You Go

Queen Ida and Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience will appear in the Benjamin Mount Auditorium at the Central School Arts and Humanities Center, 809 Kirby St.

A public reception will be at 6 p.m.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under and can be purchased at the arts council office or at http://queenida.eventbrite.com. Call 439-2787.

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