Michael Doucet, David Doucet, Mitch Reed
Since forming in 1975, Grammy winners BeauSoleil have claimed their undisputed role as the most esteemed Cajun group in music. BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet take the rich Cajun traditions of Louisiana and artfully blend elements of zydeco, New Orleans jazz, Tex-Mex, country, blues and more.
For the past 37 years, BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet has been making some of the most potent and popular Cajun music on the planet. Born out of the rich Acadian ancestry of its members, and created and driven by bandleader Michael Doucet’s spellbinding fiddle playing and soulful vocals, BeauSoleil’s distinctive sound derives from the distilled spirits of New Orleans jazz, blues rock, folk, swamp pop, Zydeco, country and bluegrass, captivating listeners in performances in every state of the Union and in 33 countries.
Since becoming the first Cajun band to win a GRAMMY with L’amour Ou La Folie (Traditional Folk Album – 1998) and then a second Grammy in 2010, Live at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, BeauSoleil has garnered many accolades, including twelve GRAMMY nominations.
They are regular guests on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion, where Keillor has dubbed them as “the best Cajun band in the world,” and their music is so integral to the Cajun culture that they have been featured on the New Orleans–based hit HBO program Treme. (Look for an on-camera performance from the band this year during the final season of the show).
Their presentation of newness and reverence of tradition is the heart of the band. “People know Cajun music being from Southwest Louisiana and because of the longitude and the latitude but it has influences from all over: Nova Scotia, France, delta blues, the islands, and the traditional improvisational aspects of New Orleans.
Though fascinated by music of all kinds, Michael Doucet is defined by his deep connection with, and dedication to, the music of the French-Cajun culture. A Folk Arts Apprenticeship from the National Endowment of the Arts spurred Doucet to seek out every surviving Cajun musician and learn from them in person. In 2005 the National Endowment of the Arts again recognized Doucet’s integral involvement with the Cajun world, awarding him the esteemed National Heritage Fellowship as well as the United States Artists Fellowship in 2007.
Doucet has gained acclaim by developing his own flavor of Cajun music and he and his band represent many ‘firsts’ for the genre. Early on they focused on the lead and twin fiddle styles of the originals of Acadian folk music over the more popular 1920s adoption of the German diatonic accordion. They performed with the communal integrity characteristic of early Cajun music, choosing to perform unplugged like a group of friends playing together in a Louisiana living room, rather than plugging in. They broke ground as the first band to feature an acoustic guitar as the lead instrument, replacing the lead accordion or steel guitar. They were the first to include the frottoir, the rub board borrowed from Cajun music’s Zydeco cousin, and they were the first to feature a female vocalist. All of these innovations were fueled by Doucet’s determination to rejuvenate Cajun and zydeco music, breathing into it a new relevance.