A Tribute To The King:
Clifton Chenier was the undisputed King of Zydeco. He combined a fierce commitment to the blues with the rhythmic power of Creole “la la” music to create the sound we know as zydeco. Moving seamlessly on piano accordion between R&B and deep blues sung in French patois, he recorded for Specialty, Chess, Arhoolie and Alligator Records on his way to winning a Grammy lifetime achievement award in 1983. Chenier stands out today as an American musical giant who broke down barriers between black music and white audiences.
In June 2025, Clifton would have celebrated his 100th birthday. To mark his centenary, activities of all kinds are taking place. From efforts to erect a statue of Clifton in his hometown of Opelousas, Louisiana, to tributes at Festival Acadiens et Creole and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, the Chenier Centennial will be a great celebration of the King of Zydeco.
To highlight the vitality and lasting influence of Clifton Chenier’s music, Joel Savoy of Valcour Records and Steve Berlin of Los Lobos are working together to produce a tribute album featuring musicians who have a strong bond with Clifton and his music. Joining nationally known artists like Steve Earle, Charley Crockett, and C.J. Chenier with outstanding zydeco artists from southwest Louisiana like Corey Ledet, Nathan Williams, and Geno Delafose, the “Tribute to the King” album will be a powerful showcase of Chenier’s music.
The tribute record will be recorded primarily at Dockside Studio near Lafayette. The sessions will draw upon the region’s deep pool of musical talent, in a community where Clifton was raised and where he operated his own nightclub. Artists are being selected based on their deep personal or professional connections to Clifton and his music. Love of People serves as the fiscal sponsor, while Valcour Records will be responsible for its distribution. Proceeds from this album will fund the new Clifton Chenier Memorial Scholarship Fund at University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
Stay tuned for more details!