Inducted on September 13, 2000
Donny Broussard has played traditional Cajun and French music for 36 years.
This past Saturday Broussard, a Forked Island native and member of the Cajun Music Hall of Fame, along with his band, the Louisiana Stars, gained some well-earned recognition from the Cajun music community. Each year the Cajun French Music Association recognizes a musician from the genre.
“This year it was us,” Broussard said. “It was Donny Broussard and the Louisiana Stars with all of the musicians who have played with the band over the years.”
The event took place Saturday at La Poussiere, a dance hall in Breaux Bridge.
“I tell you what, it really feels good,” Broussard said of the honor. “A lot of the Cajun culture is dying off and it’s hard to see all of it going away.
“It was an honor to be part of Saturday’s event and be honored for what we do.”
The event included performances by other bands, including Junior Hebert and the Maurice Playboys, Drew Simon and Low Maintenance, as well as a jam session with the honored musicians. As much as the honor meant, Broussard said simply being a part of a Cajun music experience like Saturday is priceless.
“It was full, packed,” Broussard said. “La Poussiere is one of the true Cajun dance halls that is still left in the area. For me going to one of those places is like home. I grew up playing in these dance halls since I was 12.
“It brings a tear to my eye.”
So does the somewhat decline in Cajun-French music. Broussard said part of that is people no longer speaking French on a regular basis, as well as up-and-coming musicians moving in different directions of style.
“There is not a lot of the younger generation that is following the traditional Cajun music,” Broussard said. “A lot of them are playing Zydeco music and things like that. A majority of the Cajun music is in French and they don’t speak it all the time or understand it. I think that is a big thing. Sometimes it brings you down to see that we are losing some of that Cajun heritage.
“Something like Saturday really picks you up. It was kind of like it used to be years ago.”
And it’s not to say that no young musicians are interested in keeping the culture strong.
“I have had a couple of young guys ask to work with them,” Broussard said. “I will gladly help anybody who is interested in learning Cajun music.”
Broussard, the son of Ashley Broussard and Rita Marceaux, learned the music at a young age, picking up much of it from his grandfather Willis Marceaux. His grandfather originally played with the Louisiana Stars, a band that dates back to the 1940s. Broussard took over the lead in the band in 1987 upon Marceaux’s death. The band currently consists of Joey Dugan, Stanley Benoit and Syl Harrington, along with Broussard.
While it is an important part of his life, music is not Broussard’s day job. He worked at Kaplan State Bank for more than 30 years, before moving to his current spot at Vermilion Bank and Trust. He is married to Claudia Broussard and has one daughter, Keesha Suggs, and one step-son, Rusty Touchet, as well as two granddaughters, Alyia Broussard and Kylie Suggs. Work and family don’t affect his energy to play music. As long as he has that energy, Broussard said he plans to keep Cajun music well and alive.
“We are going to keep it going as long as we can,” Broussard said. “As long as we have followers and people who want to listen, we are going to keep playing.”
Read more: VermilionToday.com - Broussard honored by French Music Association