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Bridge City’s Roberts earns major ‘Big Squeeze’ honor

AUSTIN – Texas Folklife has announced the 2020 Big Squeeze Youth Accordion Champions in each of the traditional Texas accordion music genres including conjunto, polka, Cajun and zydeco. Bridge City resident Bridget Roberts, 24, was named the statewide Grand Champion in the Cajun & Zydeco Category. 2020 was Roberts’ third year to audition for the Big Squeeze. She also participated in Texas Folklife’s Apprenticeship program in 2017, learning techniques from master accordionist Jude Moreau.

The search for the 2020 Big Squeeze champions began in February and stretched across Texas offering young musicians a chance to enter through live competitions and video entries. The competition shifted to an entirely online format in March in response to social distancing measures. Online entries have long been an element of participation — offering kids in remote areas an accessible opportunity to compete. Nearly 50 gifted youth accordionists — hailing from Dallas to Houston the Rio Grande Valley — entered this year’s contest. The four winners were announced on May 1 via the 2020 Big Squeeze Finals “From Home” Concert, a Facebook Live event produced by Texas Folklife. Each of the winners will receive a prize package and future performance opportunities with Texas Folklife.

2020 BIG SQUEEZE WINNERS

Conjunto 17 and Under Award: Jorge Ramirez, 17, Roma

Conjunto 18-21 “Anthony Ortiz Jr” Award: Jose Angel Torres, 19, Roma

Polka Award: Isaak Wolfshohl, 18, Seguin

Cajun & Zydeco Award: Bridget Roberts, 24, Bridge City

“Even while physically distant, Texas Folklife wanted to honor our commitment to our youth contestants and complete the 2020 Big Squeeze program.  I am so proud that with our online event we were able to announce the 2020 Big Squeeze champions and celebrate a variety of accordion music genres as unique expressions of Texas culture together,” said Texas Folklife Executive Director Charlie Lockwood.

“The accordion teachers dedicate additional hours with Big Squeeze participants, the contestants are extremely invested and the contestants’ families offer unwavering support. It’s this community of accordion music lovers that makes The Big Squeeze so special,” said Texas Folklife Programming Director Sarah Rucker.

ABOUT THE BIG SQUEEZE

The Big Squeeze is presented by Texas Folklife as part of its mission to preserve and present Texas’ diverse cultural heritage. Since 2007, Texas Folklife has promoted Texas accordion music genres through the Big Squeeze program. More than 300 young, talented players from dozens of Texas communities have participated in the program, which supports these vital community-based accordion music traditions. The 2020 Big Squeeze Program Director is longtime Texas Folklife producer and partner Sarah Rucker. Rucker produced the inaugural event in 2007 through 2011 and directed it from 2012-2014 and in 2019.

ABOUT TEXAS FOLKLIFE

Texas Folklife (TXF) is a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to presenting and preserving the diverse cultures and living heritage of the Lone Star State. TXF is designated by the National Endowment for the Arts as the official folk and traditional arts organization for the state. Since 1984, TXF has honored traditions passed down within communities, explored the importance of traditional arts in contemporary society and celebrated the state’s vibrant heritage by providing arts experiences enjoyable and accessible for all generations. For more information, visit texasfolklife.org or follow Texas Folklife on Facebook and Instagram.