For nearly 30 years, GRAMMY award winning artist Terrance Simien, 8th generation Louisiana Creole has been shattering the myths about what his indigenous Zydeco roots music is and is not. Leading his Zydeco Experience band, Simien has become one of the most respected and internationally recognized touring and recording artists in roots music today. He has performed over 8000 concerts, toured millions of miles to over 45 countries during his eventful career.
Born in 1965 (appropriately) into the hippie folk and soul music era, Simien grew artistically being influenced by all of the music that has defined our country’s unique musical legacy, including music from that period. He was as influenced by Dylan and Simon and Garfunkel as he was by Sam Cooke and the Meters. Since his family is documented in history books as one of the first Creole families to settle St. Landry Parish, his musical roots are firmly planted alongside the great zydeco pioneers like Chenier, Delafose, Chavis, Ardoin and that other Simien (Rockin Sidney) to name a few. He counts himself one of the fortunate few who hail from a generation with a direct link to these artists, some of whom mentored him as an emerging talent. He has assumed that same role to a new generation of young Zydeco players. He understands how critical mentoring is to the survival of this indigenous music that has become synonymous with the cultural identity of Louisiana and an important part of the musical landscape of this country. 2011 marks his 26th consecutive year performing at The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival: yet another testament to his contributions to Louisiana music culture. At the young age of 18 Simien began touring professionally and by 20 he was sharing the stage with Fats Domino and Sarah Vaughn at the Bern Jazz Festival. It just exploded from there and Terrance remains a pivotal part of Zydeco music history. In the early 1980's there were only 2 emerging bands touring nationally; it was simply the young Terrance and The Sam Brothers who were perpetuating the traditional zydeco roots music of their forefathers. He is critical to the "renaissance" of a music genre that was in jeopardy of dying off. Clifton Chenier had passed away in 1987 and by the end of the 1990’s, all of the other influential pioneers had also departed, leaving Terrance as one of the most gifted and knowledgeable artists to carry the zydeco music torch. Simien is blessed with an extraordinary talent that expresses the deepest human emotions through the original instrument: The Voice. He takes his audiences on a multicultural tour of the world as his musical language has been informed by the many countries he has visited while touring. He creates a hypnotic blend of New Orleans funk-reggae-flavored-Afro-Caribbean-world, roots zydeco music that will force you out of your seat grooving all the way to the dance floor! He has found a seamless and artful way to deliver his eclectic music as a relevant, evolving artist who is firmly rooted in Creole tradition. He is well known for his legendary live performances and his vigorous touring schedule has enabled audiences near and far to become more Zydeco Experienced than ever before! During the past 28 years he has shared studio & stage with Robert Palmer, Stevie Wonder, Los Lobos, Taj Mahal, Dr. John, the Meters, Alan Toussaint, Paul Simon and Dave Matthews Band to name a few. He has been featured in dozens of films, including the blockbuster hit “The Big Easy”, TV movies and commercials. His music has been heard on NPR syndicated radio shows like World Café, American Routes, E-town & House of Blues Radio Hour. His recordings have been praised by Rolling Stone, Billboard and other notable music industry publications as well as major daily newspapers. His extensive discography dates back to vinyl 45’s. In 1991 he was signed to rock label Restless Records by A&R rep Ron Goudie who brought the band Poison to the same label group. His carefully crafted recordings have stood the test of time.
In 2005 he became the first Zydeco artist to perform in Cuba for the US State Department. In 2006, Carnegie Hall sent him and his group to Mali, West Africa to present “Creole for Kidz & The History of Zydeco” as part of a unique distance learning program entitled Global Encounters. Simien’s groundbreaking arts education program of the same title has reached nearly 500,000 in 10 years since it debuted. This dynamic program is presented at art centers, schools and festivals. Simien is helping build an audience that is more knowledgeable about roots music as well as a more culturally literate generation of young performing arts patrons. He has received countless awards, grants and recognition for his artistry, but subscribes to the “double bottom line” theory for his business model and generously gives back to his community. In 2005 he led HBO producers deep into Creole country and introduced them to the prodigious 5 year old zydeco talent, Guyland Leday who was featured in their documentary film “The Music in Me: Children’s Recitals from Classical to Latin, Jazz to Zydeco”. In 2008 Simien became a spokesperson for the “My Louisiana” Louisiana Office of Tourism TV commercial campaign. In 2009, Simien contributes music to the Oscar nominated Disney classic film “The Princess & The Frog”, featuring their first black princess and set in the city of New Orleans. “Gonna Take You There”, is a zydeco flavored song penned by Randy Newman and inspired by a Simien original. This is the first time Disney featured this music genre with a character even speaking the word zydeco in the film! Simien Terrance and his group were the first in their genre to perform at the Grammy awards and they delivered a memorable 10 minute performance at The 50th GRAMMY Awards pre-Telecast ceremony.Simien is currently working on a non fiction children’s book about Creole culture and zydeco music.