If you missed the 2011 production of the musical comedy In His Grace at Cité des Arts, you missed a helluva show.If you missed the 2011 production of the musical comedy In His Grace at Cité des Arts, you missed a helluva show. At turns touching and uproariously funny, the musical traces an arc familiar to the Louisiana psyche: three cousins in Ferriday, La., - Lester, Buck and Sonny - stake their claims to the world along different paths. Lester becomes an evangelical preacher; Buck becomes a country/western singer and Sonny blazes a trail in rock 'n' roll. Sound familiar? D'uh. In His Grace is loosely based on the story of real-life crooning cousins Jimmy Swaggart, Mickey Gilley and Jerry Lee Lewis.
The musical was a hit, due in no small part to the 16 finely crafted tunes that punctuate it, each written by Jane Martin Billeaudeaux, who co-wrote In His Grace with John Verly Richard. Billeaudeaux recently gathered some of the Acadiana's best musicians together, along with the original cast members, and recorded the music for In His Grace. It's available on a fine new CD ahead of a revival of the production coming up in May back at Cité.
The songs, richly produced by multi-instrumentalist Chris Stafford (Feufollet) at his Staffland Studios - Stafford also performs on the record - run the gamut from rollicking '50s rock 'n' roll to country to gospel, effectively conveying the divergent yet musically congruent paths the cousins took in life - both the fictional characters and the men on whom they're based. Musicians on the record include Philippe Billeaudeaux, Josef Butts, Danny Devillier, David Egan, Glenn Hebert, Scott Landry, Robert A. and Robert J. Luckey, Joel Savoy, Mike Stafford, Scott Alan Stagg and, to give it a whiff of estrogen, the lovely Esther Tyree. That's a pretty stellar roster by any measure.
The In His Grace soundtrack is available at iTunes, the Facebook MusicStore and CDBaby.com and will be available where local music is sold soon. "I have sinned against you, my Lord!" - Walter Pierce