Posted: Jul 16, 2012 5:27 PM by KATC
Three noted Louisiana musicians, Ray Abshire of Lafayette, Henry Gray of Scotlandville and Goldman Thibodeaux of Opelousas, will be inducted into the Louisiana Folklife Center's Hall of Master Folk Artists Saturday at Northwestern State University as part of the Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival. The induction will be at 1 p.m. on the main stage in the Prather Coliseum arena.
Abshire is one of Cajun music's purist accordionists and vocalists and a living link to its roots. A member of one of Louisiana's legendary musical families, Abshire grew up surrounded by Cajun music's pioneer artists. He has performed with most all of the old masters whose recordings now form the texts for modern students.
Abshire left the bandstand in 1975 while accordionist for the legendary Balfa Brothers Band and helped to open windows for Cajun music in the nation's musical consciousness. He performed with the Balfa Brothers Band at the first-ever Cajun music festival in 1974. Abshire's return to the stage has been hailed by both critics and fans. He is again at the forefront, sharing his knowledge and skills with a new generation.
Recognized as a master musician, and one of the resurgence leaders of Cajun music, Abshire now enjoys conducting workshops, teaching at music camps and performing at major national and international festivals. Abshire's music is unfiltered and has its own wholesome electricity. He plays it the way it was handed down to him and understands the importance of preserving the authenticity of one of thenation's great folk music genres. [cid:47F650D4-2BBB-4FBE-B869-EF386708FD63]
Gray, a native of Kenner, began playing the piano at 14 and is a celebrated blues pianists. He was Howlin' Wolf's pianist for 12 years and played with Jimmy Reed, [cid:7A8B9C65-0ECC-4277-A734-6AF581869358] Elmore James, the Rolling Stones and Muddy Waters. Gray is one of the key contributors to Louisiana's swamp blues genre. He has performed at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival for the past 30 years and recorded almost 60 albums. In 1985, he appeared in the public television documentary Rainin' in my Heart. A 1998 Grammy nominee, Gray was awarded the National Heritage Fellowship Award by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2006. Gray was featured in the 25th anniversary of the NEA's NCTA Blues Master's Series in 2008.
The son of a sharecropper, Thibodeaux whistled and sang while he worked the fields as young boy. Accordionist Amede Ardoin influenced Thibodeaux so much that he began playing the triangle and scrub board and doing vocals with his brother-law by age 14. Thibodeaux also sat in with the Lawtell Playboys who encouraged him to take up the accordion.
While in his 50s, he bought his first accordion, and Calvin Carriere of the Lawtell Playboys taught him how to play it. Before Carriere died, he asked Thibodeaux to continue the Lawtell Playboys. Within less than two years, four band members died, but he continued to play old time, la-la Creole dance music. He has written more than 30 songs, mostly waltzes and two-steps.
He also received the 2009 Creole People's award and the 2004 Appreciation for Promoting Music and Culture from the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana. Thibodeaux was a 2007 Grammy nominee.