Roys honored with nation’s top folk award

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Franco-American musicians Don and Cindy Roy of Gorham are pictured Monday in his fiddle workshop. They are wearing the National Heritage Fellowship medals the received last week in Washington, D.C.

 

Don and Cindy Roy flank U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree last week in Washington, D.C., where the Gorham couple was honored with a National Heritage Fellowship Award for their contributions to Franco-American music.

GORHAM — Franco-American musicians Don and Cindy Roy of Gorham have been awarded the nation’s highest honor in folk and traditional arts.

The Roys were among nine other recipients of a National Heritage Fellowship Award from the National Endowment of the Arts at a ceremony Sept. 26 at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. They were guests at a formal dinner, met members of Maine’s Congressional delegation, and also performed a concert at Sidney Harman Hall on Sept. 28.

“It was a fantasy week,” Don Roy said Monday at their Gorham home.

Cindy Roy described  anticipation leading up to receiving the award as surreal. “It was an amazing happy, crazy week,” she said adding, “Holy cow, what happened?”

The couple founded the Don Roy Trio that includes Jay Young of Falmouth, who plays bass. Besides national concerts, such as those at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, the popular trio has entertained in homes,  New Year Gorham celebrations and at the town’s summer gazebo concerts.

The Roys national award came with a check for $25,000 and a letter from President Trump. The Roys join a list of previous fellowship recipients like blues singer B.B. King.

“So proud to bring it back to the Franco-American community,” Cindy Roy said about the award.

He plays fiddle and she is pianist and step-dancer. Music is in their DNA.

Don Roy grew up in Rockland, but learned to play the fiddle from his uncle, Lucien Mathieu of Bridge Street in Westbrook. A champion fiddler, he now makes violins  XXXXX>

He was also instrumental in founding Fiddlicious, a community-based orchestra with 140 members. It has four concerts this month with performances in Topsham, South Portland, Gorham  and Lewiston.

Cindy Roy spent some of her early youth in Westbrook where she attended the former St. Hyacinth’s School before her family moved to Windham. Her grandfather, Alphy Martin, who lived on Huntress Avenue in Westbrook, played the fiddle.

The couple married in 1981.

This week, they are vacationing at a music festival in Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada. The couple has previously played there and will likely be asked again once festival musicians spot them.

“Maine is very proud of its Franco-American heritage, the source of many traditions that have gone on for well over a century thanks to people like the Roys,” U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree said in a press release. “For over 40 years, Don and Cindy Roy have been standard bearers of the traditional music brought here by French-speaking Canadian immigrants and played by generations of their descendents.”

Robert Lowell can be reached AT 854-2577 or email rlowell@keepmecurrent.com