Heart of Louisiana: A New Generation of Cajun Musicians

Published: Sep. 17, 2013 at 11:03 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 18, 2013 at 12:54 PM CDT
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If you think that Cajun music is something that's only performed by the "old-timers," you would be wrong, and probably a little surprised to see how young some of the players are. FOX 8's Dave McNamara discovers a new generation of enthusiastic Cajun musicians playing a dance in Breaux Bridge, in tonight's Heart of Louisiana.

The setting is perfect: couples waltzing and two-stepping to the sounds of live Cajun music in what may be the last of the old Cajun dance halls - La Poussiere in Breaux Bridge. But there is nothing old about the performers.

Once a year, the Cajun French Music Association honors the young musicians and school kids who are playing, singing and speaking the language. There is even a beauty queen chosen from each chapter of the CFMA.

The CFMA was founded 30 years ago, with chapters across South Louisiana and Southeast Texas. The goal of its 2,000 members is to preserve the music and this area's unique Cajun heritage.

And that's why 12-year-old Bubba Hebert started playing traditional Cajun music on the accordion.

"My grandpa and my great-grandpa, they're like Cajun music legends, and I guess I just wanted to keep it alive," Bubba said. "You know, it's in the blood."

Bubba and other accordion players take turns on stage while the adults move around the dance floor.

"They all participate in their chapters, they play music month-to-month at their chapters," said Greg Brown. "They take lessons from someone in their chapter or near where they live."

Through the music, these young players reach across the generations.

Thirteen-year-old fiddler Eric Kelley of Port Neches, Texas, dazzles the crowd.

"It's just kind of in our family," he said. "It's all interconnected with a bunch of different Cajun families. It's just in our blood, I guess."

Drummer Drew Simon is part of the younger generation of professional Cajun musicians. He has his own band and performs with the multi-Grammy-nominated Pine Leaf Boys.

"It's great to see, because they are playing the old songs," Drew said. "It brings hope for the future. I know there was always hope, but it's good to see it firsthand."

And it's more than hope. There also appears to be a genuine love of traditional music - songs that have survived for 100 years or more are going to be around for another generation.

The Cajun French Music Association hands out annual awards to outstanding Cajun musicians. To see this year's award winners and to learn more about the organization, click here.