Zachary Richard concert to close out Louisiana Crossroads’ 13th season

By By Cliff Seiber / American Press

Zachary Richard is first and foremost a musician, but he uses his music and writing to help in the preservation of the French

language and culture in North America.

The Lafayette native will be presented

in a concert, “Zachary Richard — An Acadian Homecoming,” Wednesday,

April 10, in Lake

Charles. It will be the final concert of the 13th season of the

Louisiana Crossroads Series, sponsored by the city of Lake

Charles.

The concert will be broadcast live on public radio KRVS, FM 88.7, and worldwide through krvs.org.

Richard grew up in Scott speaking French, but he developed much of his career in French-speaking Canada, beginning with rock

music inspired by the likes of the Beatles, Rolling Stones and others.

“By a series of happy coincidences my music has been influenced by the French language,” he said in a telephone interview

last week.

He performed several times in Lake

Charles in the 1980s and mid-90s, he said. He was featured in a McNeese

Banners Series/Louisiana

Crossroads program in 2010.

In recent years, his work has been mostly in Canada and touring Europe, but he returns home to Southwest Louisiana primarily

to promote his new album, “Le Fou.”

“The title means ‘the crazy,’ but it

is also a nickname for the northern gannet, a seabird that splits its

time between Québec and Louisiana, just like me,”

he said. The first bird to be cleaned of crude oil leaked in the

Deepwater Horizon catastrophe was a northern gannet, “enough

to make you crazy,” he said.

His first exposure to music was in church, he said.

“I learned music, and I learned to

appreciate music in the bishop’s boys’ choir in Lafayette,” he said. He

wrote songs while

a student at Tulane University, where he graduated summa cum laude

in 1970. He continued the work in New York after college.

In his early days, he went door to door asking questions about the

history of Cajun and zydeco music.

One old-timer

“told me to play for the head to make the audience think, to the heart

to make them feel and to the feet to make them

dance,” he said. With that in mind, he urged visitors at the Lake

Charles concert to wear comfortable shoes, because “we’ll

make you want to dance.”

“I have always tried to make my music spiritual, and it has been a source of solace when I’m down.”

One of those “down” times came in 2010, when Richard suffered a stroke. He wasn’t long in recovery, however.

“I’m walking, talking and crawling on my belly like a reptile,” he joked. “I was lucky to have good friends around me to keep

me going.”

Through Friday, Richard is making available for free download an unreleased single, “Bonsoir, Bonsoir,” from the “Le Fou”

sessions. The link is www.zacharyrichard.com. The English translation of the lyrics is found on the website.

“The song was inspired by the

disruption of a family caused by the persecution country folk suffered

in the wave of vigilantism

that swept the country in the mid-19th century,” he said. The same

theme was portrayed in the film “Belizaire the Cajun” in

1986.

In addition to his songwriting and performing, Richard has authored three collections of French poetry, four illustrated books

of fables and “Histoire des Acadiennes et des Acadiens de la Louisiane,” a book with color photographs intended for French

immersion students.

“I have also written poetry in English, but none of it has been published,” he said.