Terrance Simien in the Quad Cities for Blues in the Schools November 4-8 Print
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by MVBS   
Thursday, 17 October 2013 07:04
Zydeco musician and Grammy winner Terrance Simien will be in the Quad Cities the week of November 4 as part of the MVBS Blues in the Schools artists-in-residence series for the 2013-2014 school year.  This is the first time he has visited our area as an educator, and the Education Committee is excited by his Creole for Kidz & The History of Zydeco program.   Terrance will be visiting 10 schools and presenting 3 open-to-the-public performances:

·        Wed. Nov. 6, 11:30-12:30 p.m.—CASI, 1034 W. Kimberly, Davenport IA

·        Thurs. Nov. 7, 7:00-9:00 p.m.—River Music Experience, Redstone Room, 2nd and Main Streets, Davenport IA

·        Fri. Nov. 8, 9:00 p.m.—The Muddy Waters, 1708 State St., Bettendorf IA

Terrance Simien (born September 3, 1965 in Mallet, Louisiana), a zydeco musician, vocalist and songwriter, is an eighth generation Creole from one of the earliest Creole families documented to have settled in St. Landry Parish. He was introduced to music via the piano at home, the Catholic Church choir, and in school band programs where he played trumpet.

While in his teens, he taught himself to play accordion and formed his first band, Terrance Simien & The Mallet Playboys, and began to play the regional zydeco club and church hall circuit.  The early 1980s was a pivotal time in zydeco music history since the pioneers of the genre were aging and the music was in jeopardy of dying off without the critical presence of emerging artists perpetuating the traditions. In 1983 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 Berne Jazz Festival. His career exploded after that, and he remains a pivotal part of zydeco music history. Simien was also vital to the "renaissance" of a genre that was becoming extinct with the passing of each pioneer, starting with Clifton Chenier in 1987. By the end of the 1990s, all of the other influential pioneers had departed. This placed Simien at the forefront of an exciting period of growth and popularity for his genre.

Simien and his band have toured internationally, presenting over 7000 live performances in more than 40 countries, and released dozens of solo recordings and collaborations. He has shared studio and stage with Paul Simon, Dr. John, The Meters, Marcia Ball, Dave Matthews, Stevie Wonder, Robert Palmer and the roots rockers Los Lobos.

In 2007, Simien helped establish a new Grammy voting category, Best Zydeco or Cajun Music Album. His group, Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience, were the first ensemble to win a Grammy in that same category in 2008.  Simien has appeared on screen and contributed to the soundtracks of multiple movies, television films and commercials. He appears on the soundtrack of the Disney film The Princess and the Frog set in the French Quarter of New Orleans, featuring authentic Louisiana music scored by Randy Newman. It was the first time Disney featured zydeco music in a film, but what really changed the game was when the word “zydeco” was actually spoken in the movie!   Simien has also contributed to the soundtracks of movies such as The Big Easy.

Simien and his business partner/wife, Cynthia, are active in Creole music education and advocacy. They created MusicMatters, Inc., a non-profit for education and advocacy.  They also created the "Creole for Kidz & The History of Zydeco" performing arts program, which provides informational performances to K-12 students, teachers and parents. Since it was created in 2001, Creole for Kidz has reached nearly 500,000 students, parents and teachers in more than 20 states, Mali, Dominican Republic, Brazil, Paraguay, Canada and Australia.

Creole for Kidz & the History of Zydeco is centered on the evolution of Simien’s indigenous zydeco music: the traditional music of the black and mixed race, French speaking Creoles of south Louisiana. He also believes that the term Afro-Creole is very appropriate when referring to Louisiana Creoles.  The performance is accompanied by an 8-page study guide with glossary, available as a PDF download for students and teachers.  In-school exercises include making a frottoir (rubboard) from cardboard.

The MVBS Blues in the Schools artists-in-residence program is made possible by a generous grant from the Riverboat Development Authority.  Thanks to our sponsors The Moline Foundation, River Music Experience, Alcoa, The Lodge, and KALA radio.

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