King of Zydeco Honored with Clifton Chenier Day
OPELOUSAS, La. – Clifton Chenier, the Grammy-winning King of Zydeco, has a day named in his honor. On May 25, the Louisiana House of Representatives adopted a resolution that proclaims June 25, from 2021 through 2025, as Clifton Chenier Day.
Chenier, a multiple-Grammy honoree, was born June 25, 1925 near Opelousas. 2025 marks the 100th anniversary of Chenier’s birth.
Honoring that landmark date is the purpose of the newly-formed Clifton Chenier Centennial Committee, which submitted the resolution to Rep. Dustin Miller (D-Opelousas). Introduced as House Resolution 129, the designation was read by title and passed by the House.
The resolution heralds Chenier and his Red Hot Louisiana Band for “extraordinary musical accomplishments” and creation of a “distinct musical style not only for the state of Louisiana but for the world…” Chenier’s accomplishments include a 1983 Grammy for his “I’m Here” album, 1984 National Heritage Fellowship, 2011 induction into the Grammy Hall of Fame for the “Bogalusa Boogie” album and 2014 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
“Clifton Chenier is one of the most decorated musicians to come out of the state of Louisiana,” said Herman Fuselier, executive director of the St. Landry Parish Tourist Commission. “Countless musicians, from today’s zydeco players to Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones, have claimed Chenier as a major influence. The music world changed the day Clifton picked up an accordion.”
“Clifton Chenier has played such a critical role in the development of zydeco music as well has also helped to shape the history of our area,” said Melanie Lebouef, city of Opelousas tourism director. “Because of this, it is important to properly honor his legacy and contributions.
The Centennial Committee began meeting in January to discuss potential projects and activities related to the 100th anniversary of the late Chenier’s birth. Members include Herman Fuselier, executive director of the St. Landry Parish Tourist Commission; Melanie Lebouef, director of the City of Opelousas Tourism; Rod Sias and Lola Love of the Zydeco Historical and Preservation Society; Patrick Guillory of the Original Southwest Louisiana Zydeco Music Festival; Paul Scott, zydeco music enthusiast; Felicia Chenier of Morgan State University and Chenier’s granddaughter; and Tracey Antee, founder of Gumbo Life.
The Chenier resolution is also scheduled on the June meeting agendas of the St. Landry Parish Council and Opelousas City Council.
The mission of the Clifton Chenier Centennial Celebration is to honor the 100th anniversary of the birth of zydeco trailblazer Clifton Chenier, an Opelousas native, through special projects and activities.