You can add another nickname to the music man they call “Le Boss.”
High-energy showman Wayne Toups has long been dubbed “The Cajun Springsteen,” but now you can add the title “Grammy winner” to his name. On Feb. 10, 2013, Wayne was honored with his first Grammy Award. His CD The Band Courtbouillon with Steve Riley and Wilson Savoy was announced as Best Regional Roots Music Album at the prestigious ceremony.
“My feet still haven’t touched the ground,” says Toups. “It’s something I’ll never forget. We walked the red carpet and everything. It was all really pretty amazing.
“It was my first nomination and my first win,” adds the Louisiana music maker with a grin. “I’m batting 1,000.”
The Grammy Award caps a wave of recent career highs for Wayne Toups. In 2009, he earned an Album-of-the-Year award from Offbeat magazine. In 2010, he was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. In 2011, he entered both the Gulf Coast Hall of Fame and the Cajun French Music Hall of Fame.
Toups has been booked at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival for an unprecedented 27 consecutive years, including 2013. This year will also mark his continued activism in the Coastal Vision Foundation, the organization dedicated to restoring America’s eroding ocean coastlines.
“We are losing 2,400 acres a year in Louisiana, alone,” says Toups. “And it’s not just the Gulf Coast. Look what our eroded coastline resulted in when Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey and New York. We’ll be doing several fund-raisers for the organization this year.”
Appropriately, Wayne Toups Coastal Visions will be the title of his 2013 album. Also scheduled for release this year is Chance Favors the Prepared Mind, a filmed documentary about his life.
“I sat down and told my whole story,” he comments. “I didn’t hold anything back,” including his struggle to overcome substance abuse seven years ago.
Wayne Toups picked up the accordion at age 13 and hasn’t put it down since. He mixes Cajun sounds with the rhythms of zydeco, adding elements of soul music and Southern rock. He calls the revved-up result “zydecajun,” and his electrifying group, “a Cajun fusion band with a rock ‘n’ roll attitude.”
He has recorded more than a dozen albums and toured to more than 20 countries. His songs have been heard on such film soundtracks as Steel Magnolias and Dirty Rice.
Always in demand for session work in his native Louisiana, Wayne Toups has also been hired to back the British pop artist Thomas Dolby as well as many of the stars of Nashville, including Alan Jackson (“Little Bitty”), Clay Walker (“Live, Laugh, Love”), Mark Chesnutt (“It Sure Is Monday” and “Gonna Get a Life”), Sammy Kershaw, George Jones, Garth Brooks, Ty England and Mark Wills.
“I want to share my Grammy with the people,” says Wayne Toups. “We’ll be doing more than 100 shows this year. I’ve surrounded myself with some really good players, so the band is better than ever. Everything just seems so much easier these days.”
-Robert K Oermann
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