Kickstarter campaign brings Clifton Chenier to life

by Walter Pierce

Detail from a concert poster

Love you some King of Zydeco? All aboard.

A biography of the late Clifton Chenier is in the works by writer-producer Todd Mouton that is 20 years in the works and close to completion. But Mouton needs our help assembling rare images, song lyrics and other memorabilia to include in the tome. A Kickstarter campaign has begun to help fund the final production phase, and the rewards for donations include private music lessons with Michael Doucet and C.C. Adcock, reproductions of rare Chenier concert posters, a 78 rpm record and even a house-party DVD screening of the seminal 1977 performances by Chenier and his Red Hot Louisiana Band.

“Clifton Chenier is one of the world’s most important musicians,” Mouton says. “His fans love him and his amazing and influential music, and this Kickstarter campaign is one way we’re trying to find those folks, who are of course scattered all across the globe. We have a long list of really cool poster images, song lyrics and rare vintage photos we’d like to include in the book, and we’re asking folks to help us do that by pre-ordering copies of various book packages now.”

The books will ship in October and also includes profiles of South Louisiana musical luminaries like Buckwheat Zydeco, Sonny Landreth, BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet, Filé, Paul ‘Lil’ Buck’ Sinegal, Zachary Richard, Coteau, Lil’ Band O’ Gold and more.

A native of St. Landry Parish, Chenier died in 1987 from diabetes complications. He began his recording career in 1954 and he and his band world-traveled and -celebrated by the time of his death. Chenier’s Red Hot Louisiana Band include future luminaries Buckwheat Zydeco, Lil’ Buck Sinegal and a very young (and only white member) Sonny Landreth. His influence on South Louisiana music is immeasurable.

“We’re lucky to live where we are, and the UL Lafayette Press and I really appreciate everyone’s help getting these stories and this important historical information further out into the world,”

Mouton adds. “Clifton is the reason zydeco is known worldwide, and the book gets inside his many contributions to our cultures and their lasting impact. Comparisons to Robert Johnson, Bob Marley and Muddy Waters are certainly appropriate, and we’re excited to get this work out into the world.”

To contribute to the Kickstarter campaign and order your copy of Way Down in Louisiana: Clifton Chenier, Cajun, Zydeco and Swamp Pop Music, click here.