Don and Cindy Roy

2018 NEA National Heritage Fellows
A man and a woman look towards the camera. The man hold a violin in his hand, a piano in the background.
Photo by Molly Haley

Music credits:

The Man With the Beautiful Spirit” composed and performed by Don Roy from the album Franco American Fiddler, used courtesy of Don Roy.

Fiddle-icious Polka” composed by Don Roy and performed by Don Roy with Cindy Roy and others, from the album Franco American Fiddler, used courtesy of Don Roy.

Pepere’s / Fisherman’s Reel / Joe Mathieu’s composed by Don Roy and performed by Don Roy with Cindy Roy and others, from the album, Thanks for the Lift, used courtesy of Don Roy.

Frenchy’s / Fraser Valley / Cindy Roy composed by Don Roy and performed by Don Roy with Cindy Roy and others, from the album, Thanks for the Lift, used courtesy of Don Roy.

La Galopede de le Malbrie/ Danse Carree Pointu composed and performed by Don Roy from the album Headed for a Hoedown

*Music Up*

Jo Reed: You’re listening to 2018 National Heritage Fellows, musicians, Don and Cindy Roy. And this is Art Works, the weekly podcast produced at the National Endowment for the Arts, I’m Josephine Reed. Don and Cindy Roy are in the forefront of Franco-American traditional music in Maine. Don’s superb fiddling backed by Cindy’s rhythmic piano, plus her top-notch step-dancing, have entertained audiences across the country and helped to revive the tradition of Franco-American music. Music was a big part of life for both Don and Cindy as they grew up. Both are descendants of French families that emigrated from Canada. Every weekend family and friends would gather for a soiree, with plenty of music, food, and good times. Both Cindy’s grandfather, Alphy Martin, and Don’s uncle, Lucien Matthieu, were well-known fiddlers and it was through them that Don and Cindy came to play and appreciate traditional Franco-American music. Don and Cindy met and married 38 years ago and they’ve been playing together ever since, bringing traditional music to new audiences as well as composing new tunes in the traditional style. After winning numerous fiddle competitions, Don and Cindy Roy led the Maine French Fiddlers, performing at Wolf Trap, the National Folk Festival, Carnegie Hall, and Public Radio’s A Prairie Home Companion, (to name a few). They have been members of other ensembles in Maine and now perform as the Don Roy Trio, with longtime musical collaborator bassist Jay Young. Both Don and Cindy are dedicated to passing on their love of traditional music to others, creating and leading Fiddle-icious, a community fiddle orchestra with more than 100 members. And Don not only gives private fiddle lessons, he’s actually learned to build them. He’s become an excellent luthier who produces first-class instruments. Don Roy has received three Individual Artist Fellowships from the Maine Arts Commission and now he and Cindy have been named 2018 National Heritage Fellows. I visited them in their home in Maine this summer and was impressed by the instruments built by Don, the beautiful gardens that Cindy grows, and fell in love with their dog Lucy. I began my conversation with them by asking Don to describe French fiddle music and explain its difference from Irish or Appalachian music

Don Roy: That’s a good question. The French music in Maine and New England I think is attributed to the French heritage, the people that came down from Quebec and brought the music with them and played the tunes of their heritage. And a lot of it comes from the singing, the call and response singing that they do. And some of it can be traced back to Brittany.

Cindy Roy: And the Maritimes. My heritage comes from Prince Edward Island. And my grandfather brought that music here, so not only from Quebec, but all the Maritime provinces. And they were French. My grandparents were also French.

Don Roy: What makes it different from Appalachian, any other type of fiddle music, I think has to do with the accenting, the phrasing.

Jo Reed: Is there a relationship to Cajun music?

Don Roy: There is some. It’s all dance music. And it’s all music of the working people. And they use this music to relieve the stress of the week and to create entertainment for themselves when they didn’t have any money. They could still play the fiddle and have a dance and have a great evening. French music is more than just notes and melodies. It’s all that heritage coming together in an audible form. And you can hear the well-being, if you would, of the heritage. There’s a lot of people who tell us it’s happy music. Well, the French are happy people. And you could say that you hear a lot of struggles in the Irish music. And the Irish had a tough road. And there’s a lot of minor keys and different things, just different ways they play the music. Tough question.

Jo Reed: Both your families of course had a hand in keeping this music alive. Cindy, tell me about your upbringing and the place of music in your memories of growing up.

Cindy Roy: Well, from the time that I was one until the time that I was about five, we lived with my meme and pepe. My mom and dad saved money to build our house in the next town. And so, my earliest memories are of being in the cellar as we are right now in our cellar here in Gorham, Maine, which they called the “Rumpus Room,” don’t ask me why. But anyway, that’s what they called it, and in Westbrook, Maine and where my grandparents lived and raised their family. And it seems like every Saturday night there was a party. And friends and relatives would come from far and wide. And there would be lovely music going on. We didn’t have songs in my family. We just had the musical tunes. And there was dancing and just a lot of comradery and just wonderful fellowship. There was always food. So, anyway, that’s where I got my start dancing to this music.

*Music Up*

Cindy Roy: I always had an interest in the piano. I always kind of gravitated toward it. And I think my grandfather sensed some sort of talent there. And so, he was instrumental, if you will, pardon the pun, in getting me to take some lessons. So, I took lessons with the-- she was the organist at our church. So, I took five years of lessons with her, learned how to play by note, played a lot of show tunes and a lot of just easy classical things and then lost interest in it because playing piano by myself wasn’t fun. In the meantime, cousins of mine were learning to play guitar and play chords. And they would sit on the floor with their notebooks. And they’d strum their guitars play and sing songs. And so, I kind of gravitated over to that after a while and learned to play chords on the guitar and sing and eventually, I met Don. Don and I met on a blind date in 1980. And I was playing guitar at the time and we played together that first night. He played a few tunes and I was able to follow because of my ear training. I learned chords all by ear. So, that was easy for me to do. And after we went out maybe for, I don’t know, a few months anyway, he said to me, “You can play all these chords on the piano. Why don’t I just show you how to back up the tunes that I’m playing on the piano because it would be really nice.” And so, that started. It’s now, what, 38 years later.

Jo Reed: Now, Don, you had a similar upbringing. You had house parties. You have a musical lineage as Cindy does. Tell us, tell me about yours.

Don Roy: Well, all my aunts and uncles, both sides of my family, grew up in the Waterville/Winslow area of Maine, central Maine. And when I was five, my family moved to the coast, mid-coast Maine. They ended up in Rockland for many years. But it seemed like many weekends, we’d go to visit the grandparents and a party always broke out. Someone would call Uncle Lucien. Or if he was in the area, he’d drop in. And my Uncle Norman or my Uncle Tony would start singing some songs, and it just evolved from there. In the same way Cindy’s family did, it just started out being a simple gathering, turned into a soiree. And with the same feast at midnight or whenever the thing was going to wind down, we’d have the feed. It was always just a great time. And my Uncle Lucien worked for a union and he traveled a lot. So, he would pop in to Rockland and he always had his fiddle, so I’d grab the guitar and accompany him. And then when I was fifteen, he gave me a fiddle and a couple of records. And it just blossomed from there for us. But it was the same deal. I thought it was happening in everybody’s household. Later in life, we started getting out of New England playing music and thinking I don’t know, it didn’t. It was quite a blessing to be brought up in that strong Catholic musical upbringing.

Jo Reed: I know you met on a blind date, but did your families know each other?

Cindy Roy: They did, yes. Well, Don’s Uncle Lucien who he was just talking about, moved to Westbrook where my meme and pepe lived. And my grandfather, I guess, used to play like at the Legion hall. They would have gatherings on Saturdays. And so, I guess as I understand the story, one night, Lucien showed up. You probably should tell this because you know--

Don Roy: They met at a fiddle contest in Windham.

Cindy Roy: All right.

Don Roy: They had met at a fiddle contest. And then Lucien would always say, “Alphy invited me over to check me out.”

Cindy Roy: Had to pass muster.

Don Roy: Yeah, like all the type-A fiddle players in one room.

Cindy Roy: But they became very good friends. They were best friends. And as my grandfather, in 1970, had a stroke and could no longer play. And he would sit in the chair and just cry because he wanted to so bad. And so, at that time even, Lucien would come over and play for him, or he would bring Don over to play for him as Don started playing fiddle. So, our families knew each other very well. I knew of him. I knew that there was a hotshot nephew who was starting to play the fiddle. And my grandfather thought a lot of his playing. But I never met him until it was like five years later when we met on a blind date. And the rest is history.

Jo Reed: When you started playing the fiddle, Don, you were playing guitar and then you moved to fiddle. Did you just immediately feel like oh yeah, this is it?

Don Roy: No, it just was fun. And I enjoyed doing it. And I did it because Uncle Lucien did it.

Jo Reed: And he was a great fiddle player?

Don Roy: He was a great fiddle player. And every time we’d get together, he’d teach me another melody or two. But then we did more than that. We always went to visit some of his fiddling friends. We’d go to a fiddle contest. There was always another aspect to the visit besides fishing and playing the fiddle. He’d give me some records to take home with me. And I figured out real quick that if I slowed my parent’s stereo down to the sixteen speed, you remember those? And I tuned my fiddle up a half a step, I was in pitch with the recording. And it was going so slow that I could just pick them off by ear. And I ruined lot of records that way, but I got the tunes.

Jo Reed: But you learned a lot of tunes.

Don Roy: Yeah and so, it was just fun. It was a fun thing to do. It was a fun thing to go to do because we were always meeting new people and having a lot of fun with the music.

*Music Up*

Jo Reed: But Cindy is right. You were the hotshot fiddle player. You won a competition a year after you started playing.

Don Roy: It was less than that but--

Jo Reed: Less.

Cindy Roy: The very humble hotshot fiddle player, still.

Don Roy: Yeah, but it was never about-- we did a lot of fiddle contests, but it was never about the contest. My Uncle Lucien was very quick to point out that, “Look, we’re all fiddle players. We all know who’s the best player. We all know who has a good day. And the judges are going to be a doctor, a lawyer, and a tennis player. They don’t know anything about it so, don’t even think about the importance of the contest.” But what was important was going to Berry View, Maine and seeing Graham Townsend once a year or running into Joe Robichaux and those friendships and sharing music that way and telling stories. And that’s what the contests are all about.

Jo Reed: Those meetings and was playing with other people.

Don Roy: Yeah, you developed a peripheral family.

Jo Reed: I’d love to talk about your musical partnership and what you both bring to the table and how you work together.

Cindy Roy: Wow, I don’t think we’ve ever been asked that.

Don Roy: No.

Cindy Roy: That’s a really interesting question. Well, for me, when we perform-- now, I’m thinking about performing because really the brains behind the outfit is this guy right here. I mean he’s the one that searches out the tunes. He’s the one that figures out the chords usually to accompany. He’s the one that arranges everything. He’s the total brains behind it. But when we are together performing, what we show is a very special part of our relationship that not a lot of other couples have. And that’s why, for myself, I just feel so blessed because I always say I wouldn’t be a good fiddler’s wife. No, the fiddlers’ wives, when the people used to come to my grandfather’s house, and the wives would sit on the periphery of the room. And the fiddle players would all be and they were all men. There were no women fiddle players. So, the women just kind of all sat. And they had wonderful community and fellowship, and they loved each other and everything. And they had a great time. But it was really happening where the music was coming from. But I would not have been in a good place sitting on the periphery. So, for myself, I just feel so blessed and so lucky to be able to take part in what goes on when Don picks up that little box and puts it under his chin and starts playing, just so, so lucky. It’s a very special part of our relationship that we have.

Don Roy: Well, I can tell you more that you bring to the musical partnership.

Cindy Roy: Oh, rhythm.

Don Roy: Rhythm.

Cindy Roy: Rhythm.

Don Roy: Rhythm, my rhythm was all over the map before we started playing together. And I’d constantly speed up or push things around. And that became rock solid when Cindy started playing with me.

Cindy Roy: Thank you, honey.

*Music Up*

Don Roy: And then she also has the rhythm of her feet and that just really lifts the whole-- the music a couple of levels when she starts doing that gallop.

Cindy Roy: I think it makes it more traditional too to have that going on in the background versus just playing. We’re both playing. There’s no tapping of the feet. Especially if you’re--

Don Roy: It just doesn’t sound right.

Cindy Roy: No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t sound right.

Jo Reed: And it looks fabulous.

Cindy Roy: Well, it’s fun.

Jo Reed: Do you remember the first time you played out together?

Don Roy: Yes, I do, I think. I had a gig on a riverboat cruise.

Cindy Roy: Oh, my goodness.

Don Roy: Going down the St. George River in Thomaston. And they wanted me to come out. And it was just like an evening cruise. And they wanted some fiddle music. So, I called Cindy. I said, “Bring your guitar. Come on up, and we’ll do this cruise. And we’ll make a little money.” And so, we did. And she came up with her-- probably a twelve string at that time.

Cindy Roy: Yeah, probably.

Don Roy: And we sat on this old riverboat and went up and down the river, out to the ocean and back. And that was probably our first gig.

Cindy Roy: Either that or I was thinking it could be like a fiddler’s contest because I know we were playing contests probably before that, but I don’t remember, and who knows?

Don Roy: Who knows?

Cindy Roy: But a contest is so different than performing. So, you’re right. You’re right about that.

Don Roy: She liked the contests because I would pay you.

Cindy Roy: No, you wouldn’t. I wouldn’t take money.

Don Roy: Well, I tried to pay you, but I’d take you out to dinner and things like that.

Cindy Roy: You would. I would say, “No, you can take me out for dinner instead.”

Don Roy: She latched on to that pretty quick, yeah.

Jo Reed: But you guys were so young then. And it must have been great to be on that circuit because New England had extraordinary fiddler competitions.

Don Roy: They did.

Cindy Roy: They did, yeah.

Cindy Roy: There was a lot, yeah.

Cindy Roy: I never kept track of the winnings because we won a fair-- or Don won a fair amount of contests. And I never got the money. I just got taken out to dinner on the way home. So, I never kept track of the income.

Don Roy: In the end, you did.

Cindy Roy: In the end, I did.

Jo Reed: And you met so many people, of course.

Cindy Roy: We did, and we still are. I mean it’s just amazing.

Don Roy: Yeah, our musical family is huge. Yeah.

Cindy Roy: It’s amazing, crazy.

Don Roy: We could go to Ireland. We could go to Scotland. We can go--

Cindy Roy: We can go to Portland, Oregon.

Don Roy: Yeah.

Cindy Roy: We can go to--

Don Roy: All throughout Canada, we can say we’re coming through and stop and be staying overnight with somebody playing music.

Cindy Roy: Yeah.

Don Roy: Having dinner and telling stories.

Cindy Roy: It’s so awesome. We’re so lucky.

Don Roy: Yeah.

Cindy Roy: We really are.

Jo Reed: It’s nice to hear about a musical family like that.

Cindy Roy: And we have a big musical family right here in the greater Portland area because we have the Fiddle-icious Orchestra, which Don created and still directs. He’s the artistic director for Fiddle-icious, which is like a hundred and forty member on the roster orchestra, mostly fiddles, but piano, basses, cellos-- help me out.

Don Roy: Just about any traditional instrument that’s associated--

Cindy Roy: Guitars, mandolins.

Jo Reed: Penny whistles.

Cindy Roy: Harp.

Don Roy: Penny whistles, flutes.

Cindy Roy: Yeah, accordion, but it’s just that is a beautiful community that we have right here in the greater Portland area.

Don Roy: And that’s the same thing. The music is just the medium to get the community together.

Cindy Roy: Yeah.

Don Roy: What we play is not an important to the survival of Fiddle-icious. It’s the community people. And you see it now with people that have been together and built their confidence and repertoire enough so that they’re going out and playing nursing homes, and doing gigs, and forming small bands on their own, and playing events, and taking trips together. And these people never met until they came to Fiddle-icious.

Jo Reed: As far as I understand, it’s an open community orchestra, so anybody can come.

Don Roy: Yeah, when I started it, I wanted it to be, I didn’t know what it was going to turn into when I started. I was just going to start teaching for free once a month and had some ideas. But what I figured out really quick was that people just want someone else to play with. And so, I went with that, and it blossomed into Fiddle-icious. And today, we’re a 501C3 with about a 30 person volunteer staff, lawyers, and marketing, and steering committees, and things like that. And it’s still all a hundred percent donated time, talent, and labor. And we throw a case out every night that we meet. And if someone wants to throw three to five bucks in there, it’s what we ask. That pays for the rental of the hall. And that’s the way it will always be.

Jo Reed: Fiddle-icious also performs.

Don Roy: We do. It’s actually an educational program. I start teaching tunes in January. We meet every other week until the end of June when I’ve taught all the music. In July, sometimes it’s refresher month. They get together. We don’t. Cindy and I take a break in July. August we meet weekly until the end of October. And the last two weekends in October we do four concerts, Saturday/Sunday concerts, for two weekends. And we have a huge party at a restaurant. And that’s it for the year. We start again the following January. This year’s our fifteenth season.

Jo Reed: I was just going to ask you that. So, 15, wow.

Cindy Roy: It’s a community. It’s a musical community, the same as it was when it was in my grandfather’s Rumpus Room, or in the kitchen at Don’s uncles’ in Waterville.

Don Roy: And also, back then my family, between my mother and my father, there were sixteen children that would gather. And so, Fiddle-icious is just like a family gathering on steroids.

Cindy Roy: Yeah, and it’s a happy place too. You go, and you’re really-- you drag yourself there sometimes. A lot of nights when I used to go after work, I would drag myself and think, “Oh, I just wish I could just be going home right now.” But once you get there, you just get lost in the music. And when you leave a nine o’clock or nine thirty or whatever time it ends up being, you’re just so much happier than you were when you first came in the door.

Jo Reed: With more energy too, I would think.

Cindy Roy: Exactly, exactly, it’s hard to sleep when you get home because you’re just so energized.

Jo Reed: You need to go dancing. How do you teach it this music? Does it come back to the how you learned it? What’s the best way, do you think, to learn this music?

Don Roy: When I get a talented young person that I really want to work with, it’s all by ear and just not a lot of instruction. Just get this sound. And I’ll say yes or no until they find it. That’s how I learned, Uncle Lu would teach me tones. He didn’t teach me how to play the fiddle. He would teach me melodies. He’d play this and then I’d copy him. And what was happening all that time is I was training my ear to pick up the accenting, the slurring, that whole ear development. That’s the best way to teach a heritage. The nuances are what you have to listen for and learn to extract that out of the instrument. That’s how I try to teach it. I can’t do that with Fiddle-icious because there’s so many people.

Cindy Roy: Well, I learned a little bit differently because I learned to play piano by note. So, when it was time for me to try to follow these tunes by ear, my ear was not trained to do that. Don is a very patient teacher. And so when I started playing with Don, he would pick really easy tunes that just had a few chords until I kind of got that. We just kind of added. But he always would make sure that the chords were written out for me. But once again, you have-- that’s that written thing in front of you, if you can put that away, it’s so much easier, so much better. You can just train your ear. And so, for me, I don’t know, it took me, and I’m still a work in progress. I really am. I have a hard time a lot of times following things by ear. I’m getting better at it after thirty plus years of doing this now. You train your ear and you don’t even realize that you’re doing it.

Jo Reed: Now, when did you begin to compose tunes?

Don Roy: Oh, very early, very early. They wouldn’t go public, though, for a long time. I’ve always been a do-it-myself type of person, even when I was a kid. If I could do it myself or I could figure it out myself or I could make it myself, I’ve always been that creative person. So right in that cabinet off to my left there is some old notes from 1976, probably when I started putting tunes together and couldn’t even write music. I’d just scribble them down somehow and they don’t even make sense now if I look at some of them but it was early on and I enjoy that part of it. You got to have some fun with it and you got to be a little bit liberal with it because there’s only seven notes, and how many melodies can you make in the first position on the violin, you know?

*Music Up*

Don Roy: Yeah, but that’s another creative process that gets you away from reality for a while.

Jo Reed: Talking about getting away from reality, as you’re both doing all this you’re also working full-time.

Cindy Roy: Yes.

Jo Reed: What did you do, Cindy?

Cindy Roy: I’m a dental hygienist who got kind of misplaced from doing dental hygiene, instead started working early on in my dental career for an oral surgeon in Portland, Dr. Richard Lemieux, and I worked 31 years for Dr. Lemieux. And my job went away about five years ago when he retired and closed the office. I just went t to the grocery store wanting something different to do and that’s where I still am now about 20 or 30 hours a week and I’m basically a musician and that’s my second job at this time, working at the grocery store.

Jo Reed: Well, it’s just so impressive to be able to do so much music when you’re also working a full-time job. It’s a lot to do. My hat is off to you. It’s a labor of love!

Cindy Roy: Well, and I think for us, because we both did it together, that’s the other part of that story of us being together and doing what we do. I think if he was doing it by himself, and I wasn’t a part of it, I don’t know. I don’t think...

Jo Reed: You were doing it by yourself, and you weren’t a part of it. Yeah, yeah.

Cindy Roy: I just don’t think that it would’ve worked...

Jo Reed: That would be hard. You’re right.

Cindy Roy: ...and he was also working at the time. He worked the same amount of years.

Don Roy: I worked 31 years, also, for the Maine Turnpike Authority. I was only 53, and I figured I’d crunch the numbers just to see how bad the wait was going to be. Well, I figured out that night I could give one fiddle lesson a week and equal the same amount of money I was going to lose by retiring early. The next day, I filled out the paperwork and said, “See you later,” but I was getting really frustrated because I wanted to do a lot more playing out. I wanted to do a lot more recording and so that was just a really good blessing in my life to be able to do that. I help the farmer up the street here April through June. And then the gigs start and the festivals start, but between playing music and making the instruments it absorbs most of my time.

Jo Reed: But it must be less frustrating now that you can be part-time, and you can be part-time, too, and mostly just devote yourself to music.

Cindy Roy: Yeah.

Don Roy: Yeah, and we’ve never gone looking for gigs. We’ve never really solicited stuff, and so now it’d be nice to, we can pack up and go and so hopefully someone’s listening out there that wants us somewhere else to come play music and we’ll do that. Just get in touch. Canada, Europe, anywhere, we’ll go.

*Music Up*

Jo Reed: What’s to like to play your own violin or violin that you made?

Don Roy: It’s awesome. It’s awesome. Yeah.

Jo Reed: Okay. Here’s the question I have. Do you find that the sound of the instrument changes somewhat, maybe even just little bit, as it gets played?

Don Roy: Oh, big time. Big time. Yeah, and that’s another advantage I have is that it takes me about a year and a half to two years of playing an instrument to really get it to where it starts to blossom. It changes so much in the first year. Everything stretches and moves, but because I don’t have to pay somebody to do it, I can try a bunch of different strings. I can make different bridges, different sound posts. I can do all that stuff, and that’s the real advantage of playing on an instrument that I make myself is I don’t have to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to go through all these experiments and it’s a huge learning advantage, too, every time I make a different bridge for a fiddle and hear what happens and trying different strings, whether they’re heavy-gauge, light-gauge, and just going through that whole process is huge because usually the fiddles I sell are the ones I’ve been playing for a while.

Jo Reed: Oh, so lucky person who buys it.

Don Roy: Yeah, I’ve already done that, you know, and now it’s getting ahead of me because now I’m starting to get a few commissions and stuff. I’ve got one fiddle that I’m playing on now but it’s sold so I’ve got to be careful with it. I’ve got another one in the shop I’ve been hurrying to make, so I have one to go to Washington with.

*Music Up*

Jo Reed: You’ve received many awards, including three Individual Artist Fellowships from the state of Maine. You’ve maxed out.

Don Roy: Maxed out…

Jo Reed: You can only get three, and now a National Heritage Fellowship. I would really like you to just say a little bit about what the National Heritage Fellowship means to you and for the music and for the community.

Don Roy: The National Heritage Fellowship, for me, means that everything that I’m doing to get the music stimulated in the community is a good thing. They’re saying people that know have looked and said, “This is a really cool thing that you’re doing. It’s a really good thing you’re doing,” and it’s the ultimate pat on the back, if you would, for me. And I still haven’t got my head wrapped around this award because what I’m doing I would continue to do until I die, anyway, and it’s just so exciting to see the local community, musical community be stimulated and revved up. And to have the NEA come and say, “Nice job. We like what you’re doing,” It’s a big thank you to me, and like I said, I still haven’t processed it all yet.

Jo Reed: And Cindy, for you?

Cindy Roy: Well, what he said. That’s the easy way out. I’m still processing it, as well. I’m very humbled by it. When I look at those who went ahead of us to receive the award, I just shake my said and say, “Holy moly. Why us? We’re just two folks of French Canadian descent doing what we always did with our family.” It’s just incredible to me. It leaves me speechless, which I’m not speechless very often but— and breathless. It takes my breath away. To be recognized on the national level, in this way…

Don Roy: It’s almost like it should be illegal to be rewarded for having so much fun and living.

Cindy Roy: For having so much fun, exactly.

Don Roy: One of the greatest lines I’ve ever heard is from Steve Riley. We were having lunch one day. He was talking about musicians and income, and he says, “I’m not rich, but I live a rich life.”

Cindy Roy: And that sums it up.

Don Roy: But to be in that boat and to get rewarded for it doesn’t seem...

Cindy Roy: It’s incredible, and I’m very proud to bring this home not only for the state of Maine but to bring it home to our French Canadian community here in the state of Maine.

Jo Reed: Many congratulations to you both. It is so well deserved. It really is so well deserved. Your music is wonderful.

Don Roy: Thank you.

Cindy Roy: Thank you.

Jo Reed: Thank you. Thank you for giving me your time, truly.

Don Roy: Thanks for coming out.

Cindy Roy: You’re so welcome. Thanks for coming out to Maine

*Music Up*

That was 2018 National Heritage Fellows, Don and Cindy Roy, you can hear them perform at the National Heritage Fellowship Concert which takes place on Friday, September 28, 2018, at 8:00 p.m. ET at Shakespeare Theatre’s Harman Hall, in Washington, DC. It is free and open to the public. You can get information about it and if you can’t make it to Washington, do not despair— we are streaming the concert live at You’ve been listening to Art Works produced at the National Endowment for the Arts. You can subscribe to Art Works where ever you get your podcasts. So please do and leave us a rating on Apple—it helps people to find us. For the National Endowment for the Arts, I'm Josephine Reed. Thanks for listening.

*Music Up*


2018 NEA National Heritage Fellows Don and Cindy Roy are the embodiment of Franco-American musical tradition.  He is an outstanding fiddler and she backs him up with her wonderfully rhythmic piano playing and her pretty fabulous step-dancing.  They have been married and playing together for 38 years—giving audiences across the country a flavor of the Franco-American traditions they both grew up with—the music their grandparents played in the kitchen while family and friends gathered.  Their love for this music and the joy they take in it –and each other--is immediately apparent.   Meet the Roys and their music in this tuneful podcast.