Zachary Richard mixes Louisiana influences to earn first Grammy nod
“I remember the first time I heard ‘Satisfaction.’ ... It was like the sky opened up and God pointed his finger at me and said, ‘This is what you want to do.’ ” Zachary Richard, musician
Only in Louisiana concert planned at Baton Rouge Magnet High
All three of the Louisiana music acts nominated this year for the best regional roots music album Grammy award will perform at the Only in Louisiana concert Saturday at the Baton Rouge Magnet High School auditorium.
Zachary Richard, singer-songwriter and Scott native, New Orleans’ Hot 8 Brass Band and, another act from Acadiana, Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience, are on the bill for the concert sponsored by Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and the Louisiana Office of Tourism.
“We have been celebrating music all year long,” Dardenne said in a statement, “and are thrilled to put together this program highlighting Louisiana’s best musicians and raising funds to offset nominees’ travel expenses to the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. We expect Only in Louisiana to be an evening filled with incredible tunes and fun times.”
Other 2014 Grammy nominees from Louisiana are Hunter Hayes, Tim McGraw, Allen Toussaint, Terence Blanchard, Bobby Rush, Andrew Duhon, Bishop Paul S. Morton and PJ Morton.
Also, two Grammy-nominated compilation albums feature Dege Legg, the Savoy Family Band, the Savoy-Doucet Cajun Band and David Doucet. Grammy nomination categories for Louisiana artists include country, blues, R&B, gospel and Americana.
Acadiana native Zachary Richard mixes Cajun, zydeco and rock ‘n’ roll influences to earn first Grammy nod
Zachary Richard recorded his first album in 1972. His 20th album, 2013’s “Le Fou,” has earned the singer-songwriter from Scott his first Grammy nomination.
Although “Le Fou,” an album inspired by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010, is Richard’s first Grammy nomination, the album has already won a Félix music award in Canada, Richard’s sixth such honor.
Much of Richard’s career has been in Canada and France. His album “Cap Enragé,” recorded in Paris in 1995, went double-platinum in Canada.
His other honors in the French-speaking world include France’s Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres de la République Française, Québec’s Ordre des Francophones d’Amérique and honorary doctorates from the University of Moncton in New Brunswick, Université Sainte-Anne in Nova Scotia and University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
Richard moved to Montreal in 1976. He now splits his time between that Canadian city and his home in Scott.
“Le Fou” is nominated in the Grammy Awards’ best regional roots music album category. Richard will attend the Grammy ceremony Jan. 26 and perform at the Only in Louisiana Grammy nominees brunch in Los Angeles Jan. 25.
“It’s an honor and a real thrill for me just to be there,” he said from Scott.
With “Le Fou,” Richard, as he’s done throughout his career, mixes his singer-songwriter muse with his Cajun, zydeco and rock ’n’ roll influences.
“This record here is really me coming home to Louisiana in every way,” he said. “The songs are influenced by Louisiana music. It’s the most Lousiana album that I’ve done in 10 years. So I guess it’s appropriate that, if I would get recognition for anything, it would be for this one.”
Richard is also gratified that his late idol, zydeco pioneer Clifton Chenier, will be honored this year by The Recording Academy with a lifetime achievement award.
“It just so happens that I’m going to be there to see that,” Richard said. “It’s something that is a real thrill for me, to realize that Clifton is finally going to be recognized for what he contributed to American music, which is really considerable.”
Richard grew up in Lafayette Parish without knowing much about his Cajun heritage or Cajun and zydeco music. He got his first musical experience singing in a boys choir and taking piano lessons for the purpose of turning sheet music pages for the church organist. Guitar lessons and the Beatles-led British invasion of the mid 1960s spurred his interest in music most of all.
Richard and his cousin, future Beausoleil singer and fiddler Michael Doucet, fantasized about being the Rolling Stones.
“I remember the first time I heard ‘Satisfaction’,” he said. “I was riding around Lafayette in a Mustang convertible and this song came on the radio. It was like the sky opened up and God pointed his finger at me and said, ‘This is what you want to do.’ ”
Later he discovered zydeco music through Chenier’s classic “Black Snake Blues” album.
“I had been listening to the Byrds, the Rolling Stones, the Animals, Simon and Garfunkel,” Richard said. “I was just a typical American in my taste. And then we got this record by Clifton Chenier. I said, ‘Wow. That really rocks me.’ And that’s when I realized that we had this deep musical heritage in Louisiana.”
At 21, Richard had a recording contract with Elektra Records. He was already devising the musical synthesis that would become his long career’s music journey.
“I refuse to be limited by any style,” he said. “I just follow my heart when I write a song. I’ve never been able to use my head to write. And being of this place and exposed to all of these different styles, they’ve all influenced me.”