|Clayton Joseph Chenier was born on 28th September 1957 in Port Arthur, Texas, USA.
C J Chenier-Gap Rating 4/10
The son of late pioneer of Zydeco music, Clifton Chenier, C.J. Chenier has been dubbed, "The crown prince of Zydeco'. Since inheriting leadership of his father's group, The Red Hot Louisiana Band", Chenier has continued to pay tribute to his father's sound and to expand the Zydeco tradition. According to The Boston Globe, Chenier (has added blues, New Orleans-style R&B and rock and roll to the two steps and waltzes of his father's Zydeco, creating contemporary, turbo-charged, dance music". While The Washington Post praised Chenier for "taking the genre into the R&B mainstream", Living Blues, claimed that Chenier is "the best living Zydeco singer and accordionist". In a review of a concert by Chenier, The Louisville Courier-Journal wrote, "he played back country two steps, hinted at rock and funk, crossed over into country and sang triple-laced rock ballads in a rich soulful voice".
Chenier's interests in Zydeco were sparked in his early-twenties. Although he studied piano in the third grade, switched to the saxophone a year later and received a scholarship to study music at Texas Southern University, he was drawn to the funky sounds of R&B and modern jazz. Chenier played saxophone, keyboards, flute and sang backup vocals in a top forty cover band, Hot Ice.
In 1978, Chenier was invited to replace saxophonist "Blind" John Hart in his father's band. Although he had little experience with Zydeco music, he accepted the invitation. Over the next decade, he apprenticed with his father, assuming his role as accordion player and bandleader following his father's death in 1987.
Chenier has remained active in a variety of outside projects. In addition to playing on Paul Simon's album, Rhythm Of The Saints, he participated in Simon's Born At The Right Time tour. Chenier was a guest performer on the Gin Blossom's album, New Miserable Experience.
In 1997, Chenier was nominated for a WC Handy award.