Is there anyone in South Louisiana who hasn’t heard a Broussard sing? It’s doubtful as this generation of the large, musically talented family has been entertaining locally since the 1950’s and previous generations long before that. Their musical history reaches far into our past and their following continues to follow. Yet another generation is already stepping up to continue the legacy into our future.
But last Saturday was all about the Queen of Swamp Pop, Grace Broussard, as she celebrated her 80th birthday.
Hosted by the Moonlight Inn in French Settlement, the crowd gathered early Saturday afternoon and rocked into the evening as various musicians, most of them related to the Broussard family, played all the old standards which never seem old in South Louisiana.
Also in attendance was Henry Broussard of the popular duo “Henry and Mitch” (with “Mitch” being guitarist and vocalist Mitch Hughes). Henry was also celebrating his recent 78th birthday and continues to play weekly venues around Livingston and Ascension Parish.
It was an exciting afternoon as local legend, and brother of Grace, Van Broussard, also showed up to toast his siblings. Occasions to see the family perform together are rare and special, resulting in an exceptionally large crowd of all ages, joyfully jitterbugging across the wooden dance floor. Older couples swung each other around, dipping and stepping, showing off moves polished and perfected over the decades. The young folks just did their best to keep up.
It’s quite impossible to believe Grace has reached this milestone. Watching her perform, singing, dancing across the stage in heels anyone would find challenging, you simply can’t think of her in terms of age. She defies all society tells us to believe about 80 year olds. She prances, she shakes and she belts out the songs which once led her to a gig touring with Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars.
Van and Grace were backed by brothers and sisters Henry Broussard on keyboard and vocals, Tootsie Broussard Carnahan on vocals, Arthur Broussard of the Backyard Band on guitar and vocals and Chookie Broussard on keyboard. Van’s son, Sidney Broussard was blowing trumpet and cousin Wayne Broussard worked the sax.
Other local artists playing included Mitch Hughes on guitar, Stacey Sibley on guitar, Shawn Stevens on sax and Hoyt Cuti on keyboards.
When not onstage, Van and Grace graciously held court in a corner, smiling for photos and signing autographs for those lined up for a chance to extend a happy birthday or hello, a handshake or a hug and to thank the entertainers who’s songs are deeply ingrained in our local culture. The love was apparent.
So perhaps we should all redefine what it means to be 80. Grace Broussard, we’re leaving it all up to you.