Lake Charles Music History
One of the longest independent recording labels, Goldband Records, was established in Lake Charles by Eddie Shuler in 1945. Some of the hits include Boozoo Chavis' "Paper in My Shoe," (1954) and the company's biggest seller, Phil Phillips' "Sea of Love" (1959). Goldband was also the first to record Dolly Parton (then 14 years old), with "Puppy Love" (1960).
Music is a staple in this region with a mix of Zydeco, Cajun and Creole music. Festivals with prevalent live music include Mardi Gras, the Black Heritage Festival, Iowa Rabbit Festival, DeQuincy Railroad Days Festival, Westlake Family Fun & Food Festival, Louisiana Pirate Festival, Downtown at Sundown, Cajun Music & Food Festival, Marshland Festival, Cal-Cam Fair, Sulphur Heritage Days, Culture Fest Louisiana and multiple Christmas Festivals. All area events can be found here.
- Hackberry Ramblers, a Grammy Award-nominated Cajun music band based in Hackberry, Louisiana, formed in 1933. Since its heyday in the late 1930s it has become one of the most recognized names and influential groups in Cajun music. Its sound has come to be one of the genre's most imitated, and its 1936 song "Jolie Blonde" - the group's most covered song - ranks as the informal "Cajun national anthem." The group has one of the longest histories of a musical group in the United States of America, and while its lineup has changed many times since its conception, its founders - fiddler Luderin Darbone and accordionist Edwin Duhon - led the band until Duhon's death in 2006. (Darbone died November 21, 2008.) The Ramblers performed a broad swath of American music, from Western swing to blues and rockabilly, and much of their sound blends them all. The Country Music Hall of Fame has honored the group; it holds enshrined many of the founding members' instruments.
- Nellie Lutcher, a good pianist, had a few vocal hits in the late '40s that gave a permanent momentum to her career. She performed "The One I Love Belongs to Somebody Else," it was heard by A&R scout Dave Dexter and she was quickly signed to Capitol Records. Her first two sessions (from 1947) resulted in her two biggest hits: "Hurry on Down" and "He's a Real Gone Guy," both of which have remained signature tunes for Lutcher through the decades. Also popular was "Fine Brown Frame." Lutcher's swing-styled piano worked well with her eccentric scatting and exaggerated pronunciation of words.
- Queen Ida, (Queen of Zydeco) In 1979, Queen Ida, Ida Lewis Guillory, she was nominated for a Bay Area Music Award. She continued recording and touring through the ‘80s. In 1988, Queen Ida toured Japan, becoming the first Zydeco artist to do so. She toured Africa the following year for the State Department, and in 1990, went to Australia and New Zealand. Queen Ida has appeared in one feature film, Rumblefish, and a documentary about Louisiana music, J'ai Ete au Bal. She has also performed on television shows ranging from Austin City Limits to Saturday Night Live. Queen Ida won a Grammy award in 1982 (the first in her genre) and was honored with a National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship award in 2009.
- Wilson Anthony "Boozoo" Chavis was born in Lake Charles in 1930, and he played music created by French speaking Creoles of Southwest Louisiana. Chavis was a prolific writer of Zydeco songs. Many of his songs have become standards of the Zydeco repertoire, in spite of, or perhaps because of, their generally idiosyncratic and quirky construction and subject matter. "If it's wrong, do it wrong, with me," he would tell his band. "If I'm wrong, you wrong, too!" His wife's name was Leona and they had six children, Wilson Jr., Margret, Louanna, Charles, Licia, and Rellis Chavis and had over 20 grandchildren. Boozoo was crowned "The King of Zydeco" in New Orleans in the 1990s. His son Charles was a member of his band at the time. Every September during Labor Day, the family hosts a BooZoo Labor Day Festival, which is a Zydeco Festival held in Lake Charles.