Terrance Simien

Terrance Simien Biography

Terrance Simien grew up at the Crossroads of State l-Highway 190 and Rural Route 103 in Mallet, Louisiana. At that junction sits the building that anchors the small parish community, St. Ann's Roman Catholic Church. Inside that church Terrance learned to love the spiritual side of making music, the way his soaring rendition of "A Closer Walk With Thee" visibly moved the congregation. Today he still lends that passionate voice and his deep spirituality to St. Ann’s for a funeral of a family member or friend from the community. His older brother Greg and previous writing partner, is an or­dained Roman Catholic priest who often delivers the sermon at the same service.

Just down from that junction sits another unassuming building, a landmark of sorts to locals and tourists alike. (Robert Duval visited there once escorted by brother Greg, who did the honors while Terrance was on tour) This legendary music room is called Richard’s (pronounced Reeshard’s) and is possibly the wildest of the many roadhouses in SW Louisiana. If church brought forth a sanctified sound then Richard’s is where a teenage Terrance first learned about low down, tail shaking party music. Zydeco: that accordion and rubboard fueled stuff that could bring ecstasy to even the most dispirited Creole-a French speaking native of mixed African, French, Spanish and Native American Heritage.

There had to be a way to combine both the sensual and spiritual sides of his musical life, but it couldn’t happen in Mallet. Living at those crossroads offered Simien a means of escape. He followed Highway I-90 straight out of there. That road has brought him to us, now an insightful and experienced artist, he was only a precocious 17 years old when he first hit the highway with his first band.

There are few better live performers. Terrance bounces around the stage like a gleeful hippie-haired, barefooted teddy bear, his squeezebox dangling off his body like one heavy come on. After nearly 20 years of touring, he has paid his dues and forged a special place for him self and his unique fusion of music. He has redefined his musical heritage by establishing himself as a formidable songwriter and an absolutely astonishing singer, who evokes comparisons to Sam Cooke and Aaron Neville. He is one of the most sought after artists in roots music today.

He has conquered film and records with the same intensity he brings to the stage. He dots the soundtrack and appears in the film "The Big Easy". If Paul Simon ever releases "The Graceland Basement Tapes", you’ll find an exuberant young Terrance harmonizing with Simon on the standard, "You Used to Call Me" which was released as a single on an obscure independent label.

His debut release, "Zydeco on the Bayou", hit the stores in 1990. Stunning in it's clarity and energy and even more so for the presence of original songs. Terrance writes from a very different perspective than many other zydeco artists. Inspired by some of the greatest songwriters of our time: Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, the Band, and the great Clifton Chenier all had a profound affect on him and consequently his music is much more complex than the "recycled vamps exalting salty dogs and dog hill’s".

On his second full release several years later, "There's Room For Us Al!", Terrance makes good on his love of all things spiritual and sensual. The project garnered significant critical acclaim with Rolling Stone giving it an unprecedented 3 1/2 stars review. As Simien evolves to create a fusion of sound like no other, both critics and fans agree that he is taking his beloved zydeco music to a new level and into a larger music world, the celebrating circles of American roots music.

His musical journey continues on its own unique course with his 1999 release "Positively Beadhead" He once again offers up an eclectic collection of first class originals and diverse covers making them seem totally fresh with his unlikely arrangements and his exceptional vocals. His audience continues to build it’s strength and now appropriately call themselves "Beadheads" as a reference to the highly anticipated segment of his show when he tosses out, by the fistfuls, those ever enticing, sparkling Mardi Gras beads!

He continues to expand his canvas with a collection of mostly original children's songs, Creole For Kids! which is the basis to a live performance now being presented in schools and Arts Centers across the country. The live performance of Creole For Kids! has reached over 40,000 students K-12, in just few short months. He offers a bit of history recalling the early days of Zydeco music and it's pioneers. He takes the listener through a gloriously vivid tour of the landscape of the lowlands, the exotic flavors of Creole cooking, the simplicity of life and the colorful celebrations that make up what is said to be one of the most complex rural sub-cultures in North America. The Creoles.

In the spring of 2001 Simien was invited to tour with the Dave Matthews Band on multiple arena/shed dates. Dave introduced the band each night urging his Audience to "take notice" of his friends from Louisiana. He later joined TS for a duet. This was yet another nod to Simien’s level of artistry.

The Tribute Sessions, his poignant new release (2001) that honors many of his musical heroes through their own songs has already been called, "stunning" and a recording of "epic proportions." His insightful narration reflecting on his relationship with each of these artists connecting the songs is handled very gracefully and adds an important layer of creativity that the listener would not typically have from an artist. Join him now at yet another crossroads where his past and present meet, where the music of body and soul, love and acceptance begin and end.

Latest Music News

more news headlines »

Featured Links