"Roi du Zydeco" (King of Zydeco)
Here’s my portrait of Clifton Chenier “Roi du Zydeco” (King of Zydeco). He was a native of Leonville, Louisiana, near Opelousas. He spoke Louisiana French as a first language.
Chenier began his recording career in 1954, when he signed with Elko Records and released Cliston's Blues a regional success. In 1955 he signed with Specialty Records and garnered his first national hit with his label debut "Ay-Tete Fi" (Hey, Little Girl) (a cover of Professor Longhair's song). The national success of the release led to numerous tours with popular rhythm and blues performers such as Ray Charles, Etta James, and Lowell Fulson. He also toured in the early days with Clarence Garlow, billed as the Two Crazy Frenchmen. Chenier was signed with Chess Records in Chicago, followed by the Arhoolie label.
In April 1966, Chenier appeared at the Berkeley Blues Festival on the University of California campus and was subsequently described by Ralph J. Gleason, jazz critic of the San Francisco Chronicle, as "... one of the most surprising musicians I have heard in some time, with a marvelously moving style of playing the accordion ... blues accordion, that's right, blues accordion."
Chenier was the first act to play at Antone's, a blues club on Sixth Street in Austin, Texas. Later in 1976, he reached a national audience when he appeared on the premiere season of the PBS music program Austin City Limits.Three years later in 1979 he returned to the show with his Red Hot Louisiana Band.
Chenier's popularity peaked in the 1980s, and he was recognized with a Grammy Award in 1983 for his album I'm Here. It was the first Grammy for his new label Alligator Records. Chenier followed Queen Ida as the second Louisiana Creole to win a Grammy. This original portrait is acrylic on canvas. I handmade the frame as well. The framed piece measures 18" x 18" x 3".