Ida Lewis "Queen Ida" Guillory (born January 15, 1929) is a Louisiana Creole accordionist. She was the first female accordion player to lead a zydeco band. Queen Ida's music is an eclectic mix of R&B, Caribbean, and Cajun, though the presence of her accordion always keeps it traditional.
Born Ida Lee Lewis to a musically talented family in Lake Charles, Louisiana, Queen Ida grew up in a French-speaking rural area, the daughter of a rice farmer. During harvests and other festivities, she often helped the other women cook for 30 or 40 farmers; after the meal, Cajun music filled the night as accordions, rub boards, and harmonicas were brought out and played.
Queen Ida learned to play accordion from her mother after she spent a few years learning the piano. Her family moved to Beaumont, TX, when she was ten, and eight years later moved to San Francisco. Her first language is French, and wherever they went, they took their Creole culture and music with them. But while music was important to Lewis, during her young adult years she married (becoming Ida Guillory) and raised a family, only rarely performing for social occasions. She briefly attended nursing school but left during her first pregnancy. When her children were all school-aged, she became a part-time bus driver. As they grew, Queen Ida's friends began more strongly encouraging her to perform publicly.
In the early '70s, she began performing with Barbary Coast Band and with the Playboys. She was in demand, not only because of her talent, but also because female accordion players were a rarity. She got her stage name in 1975 during a Mardis Gras celebration in the Bay Area. There she was formally crowned "Queen of the Zydeco Accordion and Queen of Zydeco Music." The following year she and her band played at the Monterey Jazz and Blues Festival. She also signed to GNP/Crescendo Records, a Los Angeles-based jazz label.
Despite her popularity, Queen Ida never felt music was stable enough to support her children and so continued bus driving until her youngest daughter went to school. After that, Ida began touring more frequently. In 1978, John Ullman became her agent. He helped make her internationally known. In 1979 she was nominated for a Bay Area Music Award. Though Taj Mahal won it, he arranged a two-week European tour for her. She continued recording and touring through the '80s. Because she feels she and the band sound best live, most of her albums are recorded while she tours.
Here's "Chere Duloone" from above 1989 album
Queen Ida continued to perform live through the 2000s, and though she did not release any albums during this period, she has joined her son Myrick and his band onstage. She officially retired from playing in 2010 and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she enjoys cooking for her friends and family. (Info edited from All Music Guide, Wikipedia and frenchcreoles.com)