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Louisiana hospital newborns hear Cajun lullabies

by Matthew P. Caillouet

Lafayette (La.) General Medical Center lies in the heart of Acadiana, the home of the Cajuns who settled in southwest Louisiana in the 18th century. So it's not too surprising that the hospital's foundation teamed up with Louisiana Folk Roots for a project that taps into the area's rich heritage.

“Je M'Endors: Cajun and Creole Lullabies” is a new CD that will soon be playing for newborns as they begin their lives at Lafayette General. “Je M'Endors,” which means “I'm sleepy,” features songs performed by local Cajun and Creole musicians. Starting last week, the hospital began giving it as a gift to the first 1,000 babies born at Lafayette General.

“We wanted to celebrate the miracle of childbirth with something really special,” Geoff Daily, executive director of the Lafayette General Foundation, told the Associated Press. “And this exemplifies the Cajun and Creole culture of this area.”

“It's an incredible mix,”

Most of the 14 selections on the CD are sung in French and feature Grammy-winning or –nominated artists such as Zachary Richard, Steve Riley and Terrance Simien. The musicians perform their own interpretations of old classics, as well as original tunes—some created just for the project.

“It's an incredible mix,” said Todd Mouton, executive director of Louisiana Folk Roots, a not-for-profit that promotes Cajun and Creole culture. “Several artists wrote songs on the spot for the project and several used old traditional lullabies. They were overwhelmingly excited to be a part of it.”

The CD, released last week, is available on iTunes and will be sold in the hospital's gift shop. The foundation hosted a carnival-themed gala to help pay for the cost of the CD, as well as other initiatives it has led in the community. Those include a telemedicine clinic project that provides preventive- and urgent-care services in schools.

“It's about investing in innovation and creating something that can sustain itself,” Daily said. “The Cajun Lullaby project is just a great way of investing in our creative community and showcasing part of what makes our community so great.”