The 3rd Class of Awardees of the ICON Arts and Cultural Awards are again a distinguished group of trailblazers, newcomers and brimming with talent worthy of the praise of being named 2019 ICONs.
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT PERFORMING ARTIST | Paul “Lil’ Buck” Sinegal
Lafayette’s Paul "Lil' Buck" Sinegal has been touring and playing guitar since the age of 14, earning a reputation for his work with legendary artists like Clifton Chenier and Buckwheat Zydeco, among others. The septuagenarian zydeco guitar slinger has played on more than 300 recordings in each decade since the 1950s, performing with artists including Carol Fran, James “Thunderbird” Davis, Lee Dorsey, Joe Tex, Rockin’ Dopsie, Katie Webster, Lil’ Bob, Lazy Lester, Henry Gray and Slim Harpo. Those recordings include Chenier’s Bogalusa Boogie album — a Grammy Hall of Fame entry — as well as Paul Simon’s album Graceland.
Sinegal also recorded his own instrumentals like “Cat Scream” and “Monkey in a Sack” and collaborated with Allen Toussaint on the 1999 album The Buck Starts Here. The same year, he was inducted into the Louisiana Blues Hall of Fame and founded the Cowboy Stew Blues Revue with C.C. Adcock. Despite his successful career spanning six decades, Sinegal is still largely unknown outside of music circles.
“I still want to do what I’m doing. Play some music. Drink a little Bud Lite,” Sinegal says. “But just two a day. That’s all. Two a day, keep the doctor away.”
TRAILBLAZER | Catherine Blanchet
Long before Acadian cultural heritage became a source of interest and pride in the mid-1960s, Catherine Blanchet (née Brookshire) was documenting and preserving its rich musical traditions. She made field recordings of schoolchildren and adults singing French folk songs, later publishing the book Les Danses Rondes with a coauthor in 1955. She married and raised a family before obtaining a master’s degree in musicology in 1970. She and her husband founded the Blanchet School in Meaux, where she established “Acadian Assembly,” a group of students who performed traditional Acadian music and dance.
In 1996, Blanchet received a Lifetime Achievement award from CODIFIL for her work in perpetuating Acadian culture. As an educator, she inspired others to study the area’s unique history and heritage. She organized music festivals and performances of Acadian folk songs and was an early advocate of French language education in public schools.
Blanchet passed away in 2007, leaving behind a treasure trove of audio recordings and notes dating back to the 1940s. Her family donated the collection to UL Lafayette’s Center for Louisiana Studies in 2018, where efforts are currently underway to make them available to the public by digitizing the 250 cassettes and reel-to-reel tapes.
PERFORMING ARTIST | Lauren Daigle
Singer-songwriter Lauren Daigle first took the world by storm in 2015 with her debut album How Can It Be. The certified platinum record was a major hit, spending six weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Christian Albums Chart and producing three certified gold singles. Her follow-up, Look Up Child, released in 2018, was an even bigger smash, debuting at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 album chart, led by the hit single “You Say.” Daigle’s winning blend of southern roots and heartfelt inspiration has made her a hit with Christian music and pop fans alike. She’s earned two Grammy Awards, seven GMA Dove Awards, two Billboard Music Awards and an American Music Award.
Daigle’s music showcases her affection for the unique musical influences of her South Louisiana childhood, particularly jazz and zydeco. Drawing on both pop icons like Whitney Houston and Adele, and classic soul singers like Aretha Franklin and Amy Winehouse, Daigle has developed a voice all her own. Her ability to connect with her audience has captured critical acclaim and recognition as the fastest-selling new artist for her genre of the last decade.
VISUAL ARTIST | Vergie Banks
Lafayette artist Vergie Banks is known for her vibrantly colored, cubist-influenced paintings celebrating the rich culture and heritage of Acadiana. Employing a wide variety of styles and subjects, Banks’s paintings are populated with the well-loved sights and sounds of her home.
She is perhaps most widely known for her Little Red Tricycle paintings, a series featuring a small girl on her three-wheeler. Evoking both the excitement of first adventures as well as the nostalgia of childhood, Banks invites audiences to see themselves in the little girl. Images from the Little Red Tricycle series, along with Banks’ other paintings, have been featured on books, apparel, posters and other materials used to promote Louisiana to the world. Her work has been acquired by entertainers like Roberta Flack and Cher, as well as Louisiana elected officials and university art museums.
Banks has published two books: The Art of Jazz and The Journey of Little Red Tricycle: Zoe Meets Gumbo. In 2016, the latter was turned into an animated short film, “The Journeys of Zoe and the Little Red Tricycle,” as part of a collaboration between Banks and James Tancill and the visual arts department at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
RISING STAR | André Courville
Raised in Cecilia, André Courville was something of a child prodigy. He started piano and organ studies at eight, became his church’s organist at twelve and was directing the choir not long after that. At 16, he began voice lessons after seeing a Russian touring company at the Heymann Performing Arts Center. He attended Loyola University and continued to sing, eventually earning acceptance to the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, where he received critical acclaim for his performance in roles like Méphistophélès in Faust, Mustafà in L’Italiana in Algeri, and Colline in La Bohème. He is the winner of awards in eight national and international vocal competitions, including First Prize in the Loren L. Zachary National Vocal Competition and Top Prize in the Gerda Lissner Foundation International Vocal Competition.
Courville’s rich, bass baritone has touched hearts across the globe, establishing him among America’s foremost young singers. He has performed with leading opera houses and graced stages across the U.S. and Europe. But for all his worldly travels, the French-speaking Courville still lives a mostly typical Cajun life in Henderson, in a home he gutted and renovated himself, right next door to his parents.
LEADERSHIP IN THE CREATIVE ECONOMY | Caesar Vincent Project | Barry Ancelet, Chris Stafford, Patrick Mould
The award for Creative Economy is shared by the three men behind the creation of 2018’s extraordinary double album Travailler, C’est Trop Dur: The Lyrical Legacy of Caesar Vincent. Producers Dr. Barry Ancelet, Chris Stafford and Pat Mould — with the help and inspiration of many talented local musicians, reinterpreted the nearly forgotten songs ancient French folk songs of Caesar Vincent and introduced them to a new generation.
Caesar Vincent (1882–1970) was an unlikely musical hero. He raised a family of five in rural Vermilion Parish as a subsistence farmer, never owning a car, much less recording professionally. But Vincent’s gift was an encyclopedic repertoire of ancient French songs he carried in his head. During the 1950s, he was recorded by scholars Catherine Blanchet and Dr. Harry Oster, producing the archive that would eventually lead to this project.
For Dr. Ancelet, digging in to the recordings of Vincent’s songs was a revelation. In transcribing the lyrics, he found songs dating to the Middle Ages. While Vincent’s song “Travailler C’est Trop Dur,” had become a worldwide hit thanks to artists like Zachary Richard, Michael Doucet, BeauSoleil and Julien Clerc, the unheard songs in the archive were perfect for a reinterpretation similar to recent projects based on Alan Lomax’s recordings.
With the goal of honoring Caesar Vincent at the 2018 Festival Acadiens et Creoles and releasing an album, Dr. Ancelet and Pat Mould set to work inviting artists and helping them select songs. Over three months that summer, 64 different performers made the trip to Chris Stafford’s studio to record tracks. The result of that creative collaboration was more than an album — It was an act of preservation, ensuring that these priceless treasures of our shared history would live on to inspire future generations.
PATRON | Randy Haynie
Randy Haynie is one of Louisiana’s most influential leaders, through his government relations and lobbying firm, Haynie & Associates, and continuing through his extensive involvement with civic and charitable groups throughout the state. He has used his expertise and political savvy to secure funds for several worthy causes, including the Acadiana Center for the Arts, the World War II Museum, the Children’s Museum, Moncla Park and many others. But it is his passion for the art and history of Louisiana that has been perhaps his greatest legacy.
Haynie has spent 50 years amassing one of the largest currency collections in the state, including various state, parish, municipal, merchant and bank notes dating back to the 1800s.
He’s also obtained lottery tickets issued by the first Louisiana Lottery Company, photos and memorabilia from previous governors, and several early maps of the state.
A self-described Louisiana historian and collector at heart, Haynie has amassed a treasure trove of original oil and watercolor paintings by well-known Louisiana and Southern artists, many of which are on display at his Baton Rouge office — the former home of governor Earl K. Long. His collection includes everything from Newcomb Pottery to a number of Georges Rodrigue pieces.
He and his family have been generous supporters of art museums, historical societies and other cultural preservationist endeavors. Matt Stuller, founder and CEO of Stuller Inc. sums it up well: “I know of few people who have given so much time, talent and treasure to so many great causes throughout our state.”
2018 ICON AWARDEES
In 2018, the Inaugural Class of Awardees of the ICON Arts and Cultural Awards are a distinguished group of trailblazers and newcomers who have made their mark on Acadiana's Arts and Cultural Economy.
Philip Gould is a prolific documentary and architecture photographer who has made Louisiana his home and favorite subject since 1974. Born in Massachusetts, raised in California, and now based in Lafayette, Gould has photographed throughout the state, across the nation, and around Europe — with ventures into Mexico and the Caribbean. As a rule, he prefers long, in-depth, multi-year projects, which more often than not evolve into photography books.
His work has been published in over 20 books including, Ghosts of Good Times: Louisiana Dance Halls Past and Present, The Public Art of Robert Dafford, Soul Exchange: The Paintings of Dennis Paul Williams, The Louisiana Houses of A. Hays Town,Les Plus Belles Gares de France, Everyday's a Party with Emeril Lagasse, Louisiana's Capitols: The Power and the Beauty, The World of William Joyce Scrapbook, as well as his first publication, Les Cadiens d'Asteur/Today's Cajuns.
Most recently, he has undertaken a documentary project tentatively entitledBridge the Mississippi - Spans across The Father of Waters, a portrayal of architecture, landscape, and humanity along many of the 225 spans that cross America’s longest, most iconic river.
Gould also enjoys playing music from Paris and Latin America on accordion with his group, Rio Luminoso.
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT PERFORMING ARTIST | Michael Doucet dit BeauSoleil
Inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2008, Michael Doucet and BeauSoleil have introduced the sounds of South Louisiana to millions of people as one of the best known Cajun ensembles in the world.The group has received 11 Grammy nominations and two awards — the first Cajun band to receive this honor. BeauSoleil’s career is a reflection of Doucet’s growth as a musician and can be traced through the more than two dozen albums the group has recorded.
Born in Scott into a family with deep roots in Cajun music, Doucet teamed up with Zachary Richard when he was only 12 to form what eventually became the Bayou Drifter Band. By the time he graduated from college in 1973, he had taken up the fiddle and started focusing on more traditional Cajun music. In 1975, he obtained a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, Folks Arts Apprenticeship Program, to study with violin masters throughout the region. Around that time, he joined up with his old friend Bessyl Duhon to found BeauSoleil. The band rose to fame, playing events surrounding Jimmy Carter's 1976 inauguration and performing at Super Bowl XXXI with Mary Chapin Carpenter. To date, BeauSoleil has performed in every U.S. state and more than 13 countries.
In addition to BeauSoleil, Doucet has had a long collaboration with Marc and Ann Savoy as the Savoy-Doucet Cajun Band. From 1979-1986, Doucet was an adjunct professor at the University of Louisiana. Most recently, Doucet was awarded a United States Artists Grant and a NEA National Heritage Fellowship for his efforts to keep Cajun music alive and dynamic..
VISUAL ARTIST | Dennis Paul Williams
Dennis Paul Williams is perhaps most recognizable as the guitarist for Nathan and the Zydeco Cha-Chas. In addition to his music with his brother’s band, he has recorded a solo album of original acoustic music, Morning Light, and has performed on numerous other recordings. Williams’s artwork was the focus of the book, Soul Exchange: The Paintings of Dennis Paul Williams. Williams has been featured on Nightline with Ted Koppel, as well as on World Café and American Routes on National Public Radio.
Williams never ceases to inspire and surprise those who are fortunate enough to know him. Endowed with equally generous helpings of grace, curiosity and talent, he brings a rare kind of vitality to every endeavor, whether as a painter, sculptor, musician, friend — or lately, as City Council member in his hometown of St. Martinville. As a solo musician, he’s developed a style that combines a sophisticated ear for harmony with a bluesy, soulful tone and an unerring sense of groove — at times jazzy, sometimes playfully syncopated, and always in the pocket. Williams attributes his artistic voice to his strong faith: “I think of my belief in God like a color. It is part of my artistic palette. Before I start working, I pray. It’s like a ritual for me. if your work doesn’t have emotional power, it doesn’t have the power to speak to the emotions of people.”
PERFORMING ARTIST | Sonny Landreth
Tradition and innovation have always worked hand-in-hand in the music of Sonny Landreth. Born in Canton, Mississippi and raised in Lafayette, the internationally acclaimed slide guitarist has performed and trained with Zydeco king Clifton Chenier’s Red Hot Louisiana Band and a host of other accomplished roots artists. Along the way, he’s received wide-ranging praise, like this from one of his musical heroes and collaborators Eric Clapton: “Sonny Landreth is probably the most underestimated musician on the planet, and also probably one of the most advanced.”
As a singer-songwriter, Landreth draws deeply from the mystique of the “Deep South,” and the blues and exuberance of life “South of I-10,” to reference two of his compositions. His groundbreaking guitar techniques have opened doors to new sonic textures and a complex tonal vocabulary, all bound by the bayou rhythms of his longtime bandmates. He’s graced the cover of Guitar Player magazine, and his expressive, ethereal guitar work can be heard on hundreds of recordings from artists ranging from John Mayall to John Hiatt.
He’s performed and recorded his music with symphony and chamber orchestras, and after a dozen albums and numerous music awards, Landreth produced a double-live disc of acoustic and electric material – Recorded Live in Lafayette – in 2017 with special guests Steve Conn and Sam Broussard, earning Landreth his second Grammy nomination.
PATRON | Dr. Gerald and Geraldine Hubbell
Geraldine Cormier Hubbell stands among Acadiana’s most notable patrons of classical music. She has made an indelible impact upon the city’s cultural landscape through her contributions to piano and vocal pedagogy, her executive leadership at the Acadiana Symphony, and her co-founding of Lafayette choral societies. Dr. Gerald Hubbell has held a lifelong passion for opera and art. He enjoyed a career as an oncologist with Hamilton Medical Group and went on to teach at University Medical Center, where he received numerous awards from his residents and staff. Both Chorale Acadienne and the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra have honored the Hubbells for devoting their lives to the enrichment of the arts, and in 2012, they were honorees at the annual convention of the international music fraternity, Sigma Alpha Iota.
Since the early '70s, the Hubbells have been active in the Lafayette Community Concert Association. In 1979, they co-founded Chorale Acadienne and founded Lafayette’s Krewe of Opera Nuts. However, the couple considers their mentoring of young musicians as their chief legacy. In the ‘90s, during her nine-year tenure as executive director of the symphony, Geraldine founded the organization’s Youth Orchestra, and, one year later, she and maestro Xiao-Lu Li co-founded its Conservatory of Music, making the ASO only one of two symphonies in the nation with its own facility for musical instruction. Through founding the Youth Orchestra and Conservatory, she helped bestow the gift of classical music to Acadiana children.
In 1982, the City of Lafayette recognized Geraldine Hubbell as A Woman of Achievement, and in 1999, honored her as one of seven Acadiana Women Who Mean Business. Today, the Hubbells sponsor the live Met Opera in HD series at the Acadiana Center for the Arts.
LEADERSHIP IN THE CREATIVE ECONOMY INDIVIDUALS | Steve and Cézanne Nails | Dockside Studios
During its nearly 30 years in business, Dockside Studios has yielded eleven Grammy-winning projects, including this year’s Best Regional Roots Music Album by the Lost Bayou Ramblers. Founded and run by Steve and Cézanne Nails, the Maurice-based musicians’ refuge boasts a prestigious client list including: Mavis Staples, Arcade Fire, actress and singer Scarlett Johansson, B.B. King, Shelby Lynne, Leon Russell, Ani DiFranco, Levon Helm, Taj Mahal, Keb’ Mo’, Mark Knopfler, James Cotton and Junior Wells — not to mention Louisiana greats, such as Dr. John, Irma Thomas, Allen Toussaint, Susan Cowsill, Jon Cleary, BeauSoleil, Buckwheat Zydeco, Terrance Simien, Sonny Landreth, Ivan and Cyril Neville, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown and Tab Benoit.
Artists and producers who have made music at Dockside say there’s no other studio that compares. In addition to a recording facility, the 12-acre compound on the banks of the Vermilion features ten bedrooms, basketball courts, tennis courts and a fully stocked pond, where musicians can retreat in isolation for days or weeks. When the August 2016 floods ravaged the studio, musicians rallied to help repair the extensive flood damage, a testament to how much Dockside means to the people who record there. The studio reopened in January 2017 — with its vintage Neve 8058 recording console still in tact, thanks to Steve and Cézanne’s son Dylan — and continues to infuse an authentic, South Louisiana sound into every project that finds its way onto their hallowed grounds.
LEADERSHIP IN THE CREATIVE ECONOMY PROJECT | Blue Monday | Johnathan Williams
What began as a spark of an idea to create a live music venue for aging baby boomers has quickly transformed into an innovative concert series supporting a woefully underserved population in the Lafayette community — retired musicians. As a nurse and owner of Quality of Life Services, John Williams knew firsthand the heartbreaking reality that so many aging people do not have the support they need to live. Inspired by his mentor, Marcelle Citron, and with advice from his father-in-law, Williams, along Sami Parhboo and Sean Bruce, launched Blue Monday as a fundraising arm for Williams’ father’s nonprofit, Love of People. Now in its second year, the popular monthly concert series draws fans of all ages to Jefferson Street Pub and has affected hundreds of musicians in the process.
Through a combination of funds raised at the concert series and resources from Love of People, Williams is able to provide baseline services for a handful of retired musicians, who otherwise would be without. To Williams, this effort is only a drop in the bucket. He hopes Blue Monday will help the people of Acadiana realize the musicians who have dedicated their lives to enhancing our culture are not often able to support themselves in retirement. It’s the continued thought of these artists — some of whom may not even have a kitchen floor, much less money for groceries — that drives Williams’ unwavering efforts.
RISING STAR | Alex "PoeticSoul" Johnson
A fiercely determined female with a strong voice is taking spoken word poetry by storm. Known as Alex “PoeticSoul” Johnson, this Lafayette native wants to encourage others to never give up, stand up, be fearless and be heard. PoeticSoul was featured as a panelist on the panel discussion, “Language of the Unheard: Rural Children of Color,” during the 2016 Split this Rock Poetry festival in Washington, D.C. Her poetry has been featured in The Southern View Magazine and Unlikely Stories Mark V. She has performed in 100,000 Poets for Change, in the Blood Jet Poetry Series in New Orleans, Patrice Melnick’s Artist Series, and in 2016 collaborated with Unlikely Stories as a featured poet on the Unlikely Saints Tour.
PoeticSoul worked as a teaching artist in the Lafayette Parish Juvenile Detention Home, where she empowered incarcerated youth to create the spoken word poem, “Eyes of the Sun.” She was featured as a 2017 Tedx presenter, recounting her experience with LPDH youth. In 2018, PoeticSoul received the Rising Star Icon Arts, Culture, and Business award. She founded and operates the spoken word poetry organization, Lyrically Inclined, in Lafayette. Her debut album, Scattered Thoughts, is available on Spotify, iTunes, and Google Playstore.
TRAILBLAZER | D.L. Menard
Although he was memorialized in the New York Times as the “Cajun Hank Williams,” to the people of South Louisiana Doris Leon Menard will always be one of a kind. The singer and songwriter was born in 1932 in the outskirts of Erath. He died 85 years later in nearly the same place, leaving in his wake nothing short of a transformational impact on Cajun music and culture.
The song that catapulted him to stardom, “La Porte d’en Arrière” (The Back Door), remains one of the most played and recorded songs in Cajun music. The French two-step about sneaking back home after a night on the town was released in 1962 and has sold more than one million copies. Referred to by many as the “Cajun national anthem,” the song was honored as one of the 100 greatest country songs of all time by Rolling Stone magazine.
Menard performed in 38 countries, was a member of the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame and was nominated for two Grammy Awards. He received the prestigious National Heritage Fellowship for his efforts to preserve Cajun music and culture, which according to Menard was one of his inspirations to pick up a guitar at the age of 16 — the other was Hank Williams. And if his prolific music career was not enough, Menard made a name for himself as a craftsman, building handmade rockers, chairs and stools in his D. L. Menard Chair Factory. Through his artistic legacy, Menard continues to break boundaries as the next generation of Cajun musicians carry his melodies forward.
TRAILBLAZER | Service League of Lafayette/Junior League of Lafayette
Originally founded as the Service League of Lafayette, the Junior League of Lafayette is currently celebrating its 60th year of influencing positive and lasting change. Started by 17 civic-minded women, the organization grew rapidly and has had a hand in shaping some of the community’s most cherished institutions, such as Acadiana Center for the Arts, the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum, and the Lafayette Science Museum. Junior League of Lafayette continues to offer financial and personnel resources to support, not only arts and culture, but a variety of nonprofits in Lafayette, such as the Children’s Museum of Acadiana, Christian Youth Theater and Free Little Libraries, as well as provided the collective talents and volunteer efforts of League members.
In 1967, the organization pioneered an invaluable piece of culture with the award-winning, nationally recognized cookbook, Talk About Good. Now 50 years old and with more than 800,000 copies sold, this Cajun kitchen staple is famously filled with some of the region’s best recipes. Along with Talk About Good II (1978), Tell Me More (1993) and Something to Talk About (2005), the cookbook is an unmatched source of South Louisiana culinary history.
At the heart of the work, the mission of the Junior League of Lafayette has been constant. Members are committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers — now more than 650 members strong
2017 ICON AWARDEES
In 2017, the Inaugural Class of Awardees of the ICON Arts and Cultural Awards are a distinguished group of trailblazers and newcomers who have made their mark on Acadiana's Arts and Cultural Economy.
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT: Richard "Dickie" Landry | Photographer, Musician, Composer, Artist
Richard “Dickie” Landry, born in Cecilia, LA in 1938 is a photographer and musician who has brought his saxophone and camera to venues and installations across the globe. A founding member of the Philip Glass Ensemble who has played alongside music legends such as Paul Simon and Bob Dylan as a solo artist and, while touring with The Swing Kings, a Louisiana soul band formed in the 60s, opened for legends Otis Redding, B.B King and Wilson Pickett.
A legend in his own right, whose career is filled with momentous occasions and surrounded by titans in both music and art, Landry’s stints as a photographer painted a raw, broad stroke of New York’s rising music scene in the 1970s from an insider’s perspective. His first solo art show, at the young age of 77, showcases the inner workings of a true talent in the industry who has led an incredibly colorful and adventurous life. Dickie continues to tour, paint, write, photograph and manage an 80-acre pecan farm that he’s owned for the last 40 years.
VISUAL ARTS: Debbie Fleming Caffery | Visual Artist, Photographer
Originally from New Iberia, Debbie Fleming Caffery's photographs capture moments of rich beauty in the people and places of Mexico and the American South. A native of Louisiana, Caffery is most comfortable in the shadows and drawn to movement, pattern and deep tonality. Caffery's photography has garnered praise for nearly twenty years, and has been included in exhibitions from the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. to the Photo Gallery International, Tokyo.
Her work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the George Eastman House, Rochester; the Cleveland Museum of Art; and the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, France. Four monographs have been published of Caffery's work: Carry Me Home (Smithsonian, 1990), Polly (Twin Palms, 2002), The Shadows (Twin Palms, 2002), and The Spirit & The Flesh (Radius, 2009). Her awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2005, and the Michael P. Smith Documentary Award and Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities in 2011.
PERFORMING ARTS: Zachary Richard | Singer-Songwriter, Poet, Cultural Activist
A passionate patron of the French language and Acadian Culture, Zachary Richard is an award-winning writer, poet, musician and filmmaker who has explored and shared the diverse culture of Louisiana throughout his career. Through his work on groundbreaking documentaries that have explored everything from the plight of the Acadians to their place in modern culture, to music and poetry that strives to share their passions and language with an international audience, Richard has dedicated himself to sharing his love for the world and the people that raised him.
Richard has been the recipient of multiple awards and honors, and holds the distinction of being Louisiana’s first French Language Poet Laureate. Additionally, he was named Humanist of the Year by the Louisiana Endowment of the Arts, and also holds the titles of Officier des Palmes Academiques and Commandeur de l’Ordere des Arts et Lettres – both for offering significant contributions to the forwarding and improvement of French culture – from the Republic of France.
RISING STAR: Clare Cook | Choreographer, Teacher, Dancer
Clare Cook's work has been seen in venues across New York City and Louisiana. Her choreographic work appears in contemporary dance, experimental theater, musical theater, opera and film. Her choreography has been part of productions at the New York Musical Theater Festival, Ars Nova's ANT Fest, HERE Arts Center, Fringe NYC, Berkshire Fringe Festival, Planet Connections Festival (Best Choreography Award), the Bohemian National Hall and JCC in Manhattan with productions for Opera Slavica, as well as productions at NYU (Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program), Columbia University and The New School for Drama.
Clare holds an MFA in Dance Performance and Choreography from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. She has been a guest teacher at Louisiana State University, teaching modern dance and at the Metropolitan Opera Guild, where she taught ballet and modern dance in Brooklyn. She has served as Education Director for the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company and currently operates her own studio in Lafayette, Louisiana where her choreographic work has been seen at the Manship Theater, LSU Union Theater, BREC Theater, and a recent collaboration with the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra at the Heymann Performing Arts Center, among others.
PATRON: The Heymann Foundation
Herbert Heymann is a man who, in many ways, shaped the community of Lafayette into becoming the thriving success that it is today. A dedicated supporter of UL Lafayette athletics and academics, it was his passion and mission to see the university grow and prosper. His contributions to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette include the donation of his home, which is the current headquarters of the UL Lafayette Alumni Center and his time sitting on the committee that created the Cajundome, which serves as the home of the university’s basketball team and many cultural events in the city.
A business man who constantly sought to grow the community that raised him, Herbert Heymann is responsible for much of the forward motion in Lafayette in both education and the arts, and that legacy continues even beyond his death with the inception of the Heymann Foundation in 1976 – a 501(c)(3) charity created by he and his sister Jaqueline that helps fund scholarship opportunities for local students with the goal of enriching the lives of the less fortunate and providing for the Acadiana community. The foundation has, since its inception, gone beyond the educational needs of the community and has raised money for victims of hurricane Katrina and Rita, Alzheimer’s research and many other organizations that they felt to be worthy causes not only in the Acadiana area, but around the globe. Though Herbert has since passed, his legacy of good works live on through his family, and the foundation continues their mission to provide for those in need.
CREATIVE ECONOMY: Josh Caffery and Joel Savoy Lomax Recordings
In the 1930s, folklorists Alan and John Lomax traveled the country recording songs done by everyday people. Thousands of songs and interviews they recorded eventually landed in the Archive of Folk Culture in the Library of Congress. Eighty years later, the Lomax recordings are still inspiring local musicians and producers to create Grammy-nominated recordings.
Produced and created in collaboration by grammy-award winning musician Joel Savoy and writer Josh Caffery, I Wanna Sing Right: Rediscovering Lomax in the Evangeline Country is a one-of-a-kind collection of recordings featuring Louisiana artists performing fresh takes on a unique series of folk songs—both French and English—that honors the songs recorded so long ago by the Lomax brothers in Cajun country.
CREATIVE ECONOMY: George Marks | Fine Arts, Sculptor, Designer
George Marks is an award-winning contemporary visual artist and social sculptor living and working in Arnaudville, La. He attended Louisiana State University, where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art and is a recipient of the Jillian Johnson award for excellence and the Governor’s Leadership in the Arts award. Marks is a seminal member and outspoken advocate of Louisiana’s culture and arts scene, residing as president and founder of numerous organizations such as the NuNu Arts and Culture Collective and Le Semaine De Francophonie, a five-day summit that helps to build French partnerships between Louisiana’s culture and the francophone world.
A reflection of his passion for the French community in and out of Louisiana, George’s art revolves around the history and culture of southwest Louisiana, delving into topics such as slavery, human rights and cultural sustainability. From clothing and design to social sculpting, his work can be seen in corporate and private collections around the globe.
TRAILBLAZER: Buckwheat Zydeco
If you’ve gotten into Zydeco music, or felt its influence, or watched the world celebrate this great aspect of Louisiana culture over the past 30 years it’s likely been because of Buckwheat Zydeco. The band can claim the three largest selling Zydeco albums of all time. No other Zydeco artist has come close to selling as many records or exposing the music to more people around the world. Bringing the unique sound of Zydeco into the musical mainstream, Buckwheat Zydeco released the first-ever major label Zydeco album in 1987: Island Records’ “On A Night Like This.” Last month Jimmy Fallon asked Buckwheat Zydeco to play that title tune with him and the Roots to kick off his final Late Night show before taking over the Tonight Show.
Over the course of Buckwheat Zydeco’s career, Buck has gigged with everyone from Eric Clapton (with whom Buckwheat also recorded) and U2 to The Boston Pops. The band performed at the closing ceremonies of the 1996 Summer Olympics to a worldwide audience of three billion people. Buckwheat Zydeco even performed at both of President Clinton’s Inaugurals. More national television appearances include PBS’s tribute to Paul Simon, where Buck performed with Lyle Lovett; sitting in with Paul Shaffer on The Late Show With David Letterman (and playing “Hot Tamale Baby” for Martha Stewart); and feting Ozzie Osbourne among other’s on VH-1’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Buck was recently profiled in a ten-minute feature by Scott Simon, on National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition Saturday. The band has appeared six times on Letterman, and on CNN, The Today Show, MTV, NBC News, CBS Morning News and many others.
TRAILBLAZER: Clifton Chenier
A native of Opelousas, Louisiana, Clifton Chenier is considered one of, if not the, godfathers of Zydeco music. After beginning his career in 1954, Chenier became famous not only for innovating the world of music by combining the sounds of R&B and Rock N’ Roll with the waltzes and rhythms of Cajun and French dancing, but also for his flashy stage presence, typically wailing on his accordion while donning cape, crown and signature gold tooth. Clifton Chenier brought to the stage a toe-tapping, two-stepping energy that, to this day, is honored and emulated by Cajun and zydeco musicians around the world. Often credited as the King of Zydeco, Chenier’s music and passion helped spark national awareness and interest in the genre.
A Grammy-award winning performer, Chenier continued to perform until his death in 1987, recording and touring even while battling serious illness – a testament to the man’s love of the music. He is survived by his son C.J., who carries on his father’s legend of exuberant style and musical talent, performing with The Red Hot Louisiana Band – a “supergroup” of respected and well-known zydeco and blues musicians started by Clifton in 1976. Two years after his death, Chenier was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame and, in 2011, the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. Clifton Chenier is still being honored to this day, with his album Bogalusa Boogie being preserved in the National Recording Registry for its significant contribution to culture, history and art.
TRAILBLAZER: David Egan | Musician, Songwriter
David Egan was one of the state's most well-respected songwriters, penning tracks that were performed by Etta James, Solomon Burke, Percy Sledge, Tab Benoit, Irma Thomas, Marcia Ball, Marc Broussard, Joe Cocker and others.
A writer of both song and opinion, Egan was an infrequent contributor for The Independent and regularly lent his wisdom to the music industry and its appreciators. As a piano player, he helped to reinvigorate the world of Swamp Pop and revive its attention in southwest Louisiana alongside CC Adcock and Warren Storm as a member of the group Lil’ Band O’ Gold. His ability to produce soulful, deep musings that were crooned alongside toe-tapping, moving rhythms earned him the respect of many of his peers.
Egan passed away in 2016 after a second battle with lung cancer at the age of 61. His wife, Rhonda, who he quit smoking for decades ago, continues to build his legacy and the remembrance of him through the David Egan Dreamer Fund, which helps local musicians and artists fund creative projects in the Acadiana area.
TRAILBLAZER: Elemore Morgan Jr. | Painter
Elemore Morgan, Jr. is acknowledged as the leading contemporary Louisiana landscape painter. The coastal prairie landscape of the rice growing region of southwest Louisiana with its terraced fields, towering thunderheads, solitary oaks, mills and barns is the source of his work, but through his time in the Air Force and his own personal travels, Morgan has painted landscapes across the United States, each more unique than the last and still containing some element of the Louisiana artist’s unique flare for sublime lighting and custom-cut canvases.
Morgan is known for luminous, gestural paintings which reflect the dramatic skies and vast spaces of the prairies and marshes of south Louisiana. His treatment of light and color is linked to the work of Impressionist and Fauve painters of the 19th century. Elemore Morgan, Jr. often employs shaped Masonite panels which are integral to the design and composition of his paintings, which can be cut and shaped to fit the painter’s vision for the landscapes he’s chosen to honor.
TRAILBLAZER: George Rodrigue | Painter
Born and raised in Cajun Country, Louisiana, U.S.A., artist George Rodrigue portrayed on his canvas what he feared was his dying heritage—-including its land, people, traditions, and mythology. As he often explained, he sought to “graphically interpret the Cajun culture,” preserving it in the face of a progressive world.
Rodrigue’s art studies at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles spawned one of the greatest success stories in American art. In the early 1990s his Blue Dog Series, based on the French-Cajun loup-garou legend, catapulted him to worldwide fame, while his dark Renaissance-like landscapes developed into robust modern masterpieces.
As a passionate philanthropist, Rodrigue founded the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts, advocating the importance of the arts in education. Programs include art supplies for schools, scholarships, and arts integration through Louisiana A+ Schools.