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Born and raised in southwest Louisiana, Renée Reed has always been unselfconsciously Cajun.
She grew up on the accordion-bending knee of her grandfather Harry Trahan, in the middle of countless jam sessions at the one-stop Cajun shop owned by her parents Lisa Trahan and Mitch Reed, and soaked in the storytelling of her great uncle, the folklorist Revon Reed and his infamous brothers from Mamou. She was surrounded by a litany of Cajun and Creole music legends, both backstage at the many festivals of Southwest Louisiana, and on the porch of her family home.
The cover of her debut single, “Out Loud,” is a photo of her in traditional Mardi Gras costume. It’s not the typical New Orleans Mardi Gras costume most folks are used to seeing, but a costume of the lesser known Courir de Mardi Gras, a rural celebration where there are no spectators and the participants’ costumes more closely resemble French medieval attire.
But Renée also voraciously explored beyond her cultural roots. She dove into a broad spectrum of 60s folk and attended Richard Thompson’s masterclass camp in the Catskills outside of Woodstock, New York. She developed an affinity for outsider art, animation, and puppetry. At around the same time Renée started writing her own songs she discovered Serge Gainsbourg, Françoise Hardy, and yé-yé (1960s French pop). What might seem incidental to some, encountering French in this way was a revelation to Renée and began to forge a bridge between her many influences.