Two-time Grammy winner Terrance Simien brings 'Zydeco Experience' to Bayou Theater
By: Katherine Adams
Two-time Zydeco Grammy-winning artist Terrance Simien will return to the Bayou Theater at University of Houston-Clear Lake for two high-spirited performances Saturday, Oct. 29 and Sunday, Oct. 30. The second performance, entitled “Creole for Kidz and the History of Zydeco,” is a multicultural, educational performing arts program to entertain as well as teach children about the Creole culture and Zydeco.
“We are so happy to be coming to the Bayou Theater,” Simien said. “The last time we performed, we had a room full of love and joy.”
This time around, Simien promised another evening of love, joy and energy. “The Zydeco Experience will be a big dose of Zydeco coming straight from the source, with some ballads and a few waltzes thrown into the mix,” he said. “I’ll definitely also be talking to the audience about the music, about myself, and about my roots in this music.”
The “source” Simien refers to is St. Landry Parish in Louisiana, where he grew up with Zydeco music being played at parties, porches, and church halls. “I grew up Catholic and we used to give Zydeco benefit dances in churches to support the church, and it became a tradition for families to go and dance to help the church,” he said. “We used to do them in Houston at Catholic churches in the early 1980s. This music has always been part of me and our foundation as Creole people. We used to go to Zydeco dances and dance away our miseries and the hardships of our lives. That’s what Zydeco was for me, growing up.”
But giving kids a history lesson about this truly American style of music is part of what inspires Simien as a musician. “This is music that sounds like it’s from somewhere else,” he said. “In the ‘Creole for Kidz’ concert, we talk about the history of this music, Louisiana Creole culture, and how it came together in rural Louisiana.”
Simien said the music has influences from all over the world. “A Creole person like me comes from France, Africa, Germany, Ireland and I even have some Native American in me,” he said. “I have ‘jambalaya DNA’ and it all comes together in a unique way that is Louisiana history and American history. I hope the kids learn a little French, a little geography, and a little history, all in 45 minutes.”
Even though many children might not have heard of Zydeco, they certainly know Disney movies. “I co-wrote a song with Randy Newman called, ‘Gonna Take You There,’ from ‘The Princess and the Frog,’ and the kids recognize that song,” he said. “It’s the first time Disney ever featured a Zydeco song in a movie. This might be the first time kids see an accordion and a rub board together, and hear them in a style that blends.”
Simien won his first Grammy in 2007 in the category of Best Zydeco or Cajun Music, having spearheaded the effort to create the category in the first place. “Then, after it took seven years to get the Grammy organization to create the category, we were the first to win," he said.
His second Grammy came in 2013 for his album, “Dockside Sessions,” in the Best Regional Roots category.
“I just want the audiences to come and enjoy themselves and feel the music, joy and positive energy that this music, and answer some question they have and let the kids come on stage and have fun,” he said.
To learn more about events at the Bayou Theater, or to purchase tickets to one or both events, go online.