ALLAGASH, ME– In fact, beautiful Allagash Maine reports a town population of about 239 people. One of those who are fortunate enough to call Allagash her home is writer Cathie Pelletier. It’s always nice to hear from her and to learn about her prolific and successful writing career. She recently contacted me with news about “The Ragin’ Cajun: Memoir of a Louisiana Man“, by Doug Kershaw and Cathie Pelletier. I certainly look forward to reading this book about Kershaw’s life, coming from poverty to achieving success as musical performer, when it’s released, on October 1, 2019, published by Mercer University Press.
Doug Kershaw was raised in the Louisiana Cajun culture, during tough times, but his natural musical talents gained him recognition as a masterful performer. A pre-release review reports that, as a child, “…. Kershaw spoke only Cajun-French. He got his first pair of shoes when he was eight years old, the same year he began supporting his mother, by playing fiddle and shining shoes. Throughout his career, he has mastered playing many musical instruments. Because of his signature style of music-making and entertaining, Kershaw is known as being an energetic performer and storyteller. His entertainment career includes being a longtime member of the Grand Ole Opry, in Nashville, along with his brother, Rusty. He is a musician and a song writer. Kershaw is a 2009 inductee into the Colorado Country Music Hall of Fame and he was honored, in 2007, as the first inductee into the Cajun Zydeco Hall of Fame, in Louisiana. He performed in 2009, at the annual Festivals Acadiens et Créoles, a three-day celebration of the French heritage, music, crafts, and food of South Louisiana. It is held annually in Lafayette, Louisiana. (I enjoyed reading the website for this Acadian festival, check http://www.festivalsacadiens.com/)
I asked why Pelletier chose to co-author Kershaw’s memoir? She said, “…20 some years ago, in Nashville…I did a book with my good friend the late Skeeter Davis—and Doug Kershaw’s manager heard me on a talk show, and contacted me and after a few meetings, talked me into it, especially after I met Doug–who came for a week at my house several times. Doug and I are friends, thus, for over two decades…”
Kershaw’s memoir is particularly interesting because his life story is a parallel series of experiences about the American dream, whereby he worked hard to overcome family and personal challenges, to become an expert performer. Of particular interest to Franco-Americans, and those who share the Acadian ancestry, is the underlying example about the fascinating diversity in French history, from Louisiana to the Grand Ole Opry, and beyond. French influence has become an important piece of America’s diverse culture.
Pelletier has been writing and publishing since 1986, from her home in Allagash and with some of her colleagues in the Country Music world. She recognized her home and the Allagash Historical Society with literary salute, when she edited “Christmas in Allagash: The Early Years“, an anthology, containing essays and personal stories written by residents.
A narrative about her career is reported on the website FantasticFiction.com, “Cathie Pelletier was born and raised at the end of the road in northern Maine. She has spent nearly 30 years in the South and 8 years in Canada. Her novel Candles on Bay Street, was published in ten languages and was produced in 2006, as a Hallmark Hall of Fame Productions, starring Alicia Silverstone. She is the winner of the New England Book Award for Fiction, among others. She has published seven novels under her own name. As K. C. McKinnon, she has written two novels.” By the way, Candles on Bay Street is a novel set in Maine.
My congratulations to Cathie Pelletier for her hard work, well deserved recognition and memorable achievements, as a notable writer from Allagash, Maine!