For more than 2 decades Grammy award winning artist Terrance Simien, 8th generation Louisiana Creole has been shattering the myths about what his indigenous Creole Zydeco music is and is not. Leading his Zydeco Experience Band, Simien has become a highly respected, internationally recognized touring and recording artist and Cultural Ambassador for his state. He has presented thousands of performances, toured millions of miles to over 40 countries and reached at least a million people during his eventful 25 year career.
Born (appropriately!) in 1965 into the hippie folk and soul music era, Simien grew artistically being influenced by all of the great music that has defined our country’s musical legacy, including music from that era. He was as influenced by Dylan and Simon and Garfunkel as he was by Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke and the Meters. And of course hailing from one of the first Creole families documented to have settled St. Landry Parish he was deeply affected by the great Zydeco music pioneers like Chenier, Delafose, Chavis, Ardoin and Fontenot to name a few. He counts himself one of the fortunate, as he is the last generation with a direct link to these pioneers, some of whom mentored him as an emerging artist. In turn he has assumed that same role to a new generation of young Zydeco talents as he understands how critical mentoring is to the survival of the music that is so critical to the cultural identity of Louisiana.
At the young age of 18 Simien began touring professionally full time and by 20 he was sharing the stage with Fats Domino and Sarah Vaughn at the Bern Jazz Festival. It just exploded from there and Terrance remains a pivotal part of Zydeco music history because when he began his professional career in the early 1980's there were only 2 emerging bands touring nationally. It was quite simply the young Terrance and the Sam Brothers who were continuing the traditions of this unique indigenous roots music. He became a critical part of the "renaissance" of a music genre that was in jeopardy of dying off. Clifton Chenier died in 1987 and by the end of the 1990’s all of the Zydeco pioneers had passed away leaving Terrance as one of the most experienced and knowledgeable to carry the Zydeco music torch.
During the past 25 years Simien has shared studio and stage with Robert Palmer, Stevie Wonder, Los Lobos, Keith Richards, Art Neville, the Meters, Alan Toussaint, Paul Simon and Dave Matthews Band to name a few. He has been featured in dozens of films, including the blockbuster hit “The Big Easy”, TV movies and advertising. His music has been heard on public radio and featured on FM syndicated radio shows that have been heard by millions worldwide. His recordings have been praised by Rolling Stone, Billboard, other notable music industry publications and major daily newspapers.
In 2005 he became the first Zydeco artist to perform in Cuba for the US State Department. In 2006, Carnegie Hall sent him and this band to Mali, West Africa to present “Creole for Kidz & The History of Zydeco” as part of a unique distance learning program entitled Global Encounters. 2007 offered another global opportunity and a rare Creole cultural exchange and tour with the US State Department to Mauritius, Rodrigues and Seychelles where he connected his own Creole culture with the indigenous Creole/Kreol population of these countries. He and his band were the first American artists to perform in Rodrigues, a country of 40,000 people with a Creole culture still in tact.
Simien is a two term Board of Governor for The Recording Academy (the Grammy Awards organization) and in 2007 in partnership with business partner/wife he was successful in helping to establish the new Grammy voting category for “Best Zydeco or Cajun Music Album”, once again changing the course of Zydeco music history!