Jim Paquette - preserving his Franco-American and musical roots

A story by Biddeford Cultural & Heritage Center Voices of Biddeford project from 1920s to 2023

Voices of Biddeford interview with Jim Paquette on March 30, 2023

Jim is the son of French-Canadian immigrants who moved to the Biddeford area to find employment. He became enthralled with music from a young age, although he opted for rock vs the country music of his father's band. He is best known as the lead singer of Black Hart, an iconic band popular at numerous local establishments and well-remembered as the entertainment for countless weddings and prenuptial dances.

Jim is a life-long resident of the Biddeford-Saco area with a son and two daughters. One of them, Jenny, continued in the family's musical footsteps by performing country with numerous renowned artists. His successful battle with cancer led to numerous positive steps including starting an area support group and co-owning Memory Lane Music Hall for 10 years.

Now retired, his recent passions are the coordination of a monthly French conversation group and a regular reunion of his Biddeford High School classmates. His new project is to research and capture the story of live music in the Biddeford area.

Jim shared stories of his parents' large French-Canadian families who moved to the area to work in the mills and why his father and brothers' band called themselves the Dixon Brothers, though their name was Paquette. He spoke of his life's journey: the story of how his teenage band got the mayor's permission to practice at City Theater; the evolution from young band member to the area's "hottest band," the inside of what life is like as a band member; the transition from popular live bands and dance halls to DJs; how he supported his daughter in country music competitions, leading to Las Vegas, the Grand Ole Opry, and performances with some of country music's most renowned artists; how he dealt with cancer and the promise he made to God; the change in his perspective while disabled; and how he became a co-owner of Memory Lane Music Hall. He recollects the changes he has seen in the community through the years and his new mission to gather people with common interests: speaking French, high school classmates, and Biddeford's live bands.

Recorded on March 30, 2023

View a transcript of this interview, more pictures, and additional information.

For more stories from the "Voices for Biddeford" project, visit Voices of Biddeford.

Jim Paquette, lead singer of Black Hart at 2000 reunion.

August 1975 ad promoting dance featuring iconic Black Hart

April 6, 2023 Courier newspaper article about the monthly meeting of French speakers organized by Jim Paquette

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