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C.J. Chenier
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Clayton Joseph (C.J.) Chenier was born September 28, 1957 - the son of the great King of Zydeco, Clifton Chenier. C.J.'s father was the first Creole musician to win a Grammy Award. C.J. spent his childhood in the tough tenement housing projects of Port Arthur, Texas. His earliest musical influences were an eclectic mix of funk, soul, jazz and Motown, and his first musical instruments were piano, tenor saxophone and flute. It wasn't until his 21st birthday, after winning a scholarship and studying music at Texas Southern University, that C.J. first performed with his famous father and the legendary Red Hot Louisiana band.

On the road his father showed him how to front a world class touring band - teaching C.J. how to run the family business and how to develop his lifelong passion for music into a career. When Clifton died in 1987 his son adopted the Red Hot Louisiana Band and recorded his debut album for the great American independent label Arhoolie Records. As he told a journalist at the time, he does not try to imitate his father's playing: "I play it the way I play it. All my father really told me was to do the best I could do with my own style." In the following years C.J. would record albums Slash Records and the legendary Chicago label Alligator Records.

When Paul Simon recorded his album Rhythm of the Saints, he handpicked C.J. Chenier to play accordion (alongside Ringo Starr on drums) then asked him to join his “Born at the Right Time Tour." A few years later C.J. showed up as a guest on the Gin Blossom’s “New Miserable Experience” album.

C.J,‘s appearances on the Jon Stewart Show and CNN brought C.J.’s music to his widest audiences yet. But all this attention didn’t change his philosophy toward his music. “You go to a gig by a jazz band,” he says, “and everybody's sitting down, sipping drinks. You play zydeco and you see shoes flying off. You can’t come to my show and stay unhappy all night long. You’re going to break a smile and stomp your foot before too long. This is happy music, and it makes you dance.”

Nowhere was this more evident than the band’s appearance at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, where their raucous performance caught the attention of VH1, which featured Chenier in a segment on the event. Entertainment Weekly followed with a piece of their own. And a 1996 showcase at Austin’s SxSW Music Conference (as part of the Alligator Records 25th Anniversary event) swept the overflow crowd of music writers and fans at Antone’s into a massive dancing frenzy.

Today, C.J. continues to record and rack up honors and awards. This year, he is being honored along with his late friend, Clifford Antone, in the acclaimed Museum of the Gulf Coast's Music Hall of Fame in the Golden Triangle; where he will join the likes of Janis Joplin, Tex Ritter, Percy Sledge, George Jones, Marcia Ball, Johnny Winter, The Big Bopper, ZZ Top and, of course, his father, Clifton Chenier.

Last Edited By FrancisMorin on 2019-10-27 11:34:41 AM

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