I recently had an opportunity to chat with this interesting musician. I caught up with T by phone while he was on his motorcycle heading to his home in Jennings, LA. He promised to call me back in about 15 minutes and he was true to his word.
T Broussard has traveled a rocky road but he is enjoying and appreciating life more now and is completely focused on his music. He has an important story to tell. One that tells of lessons learned and turning life around when things go bad. To me, he is an inspiration because he hasn't let his past deter him from making his music career a success.
I started our conversation by asking T what Zydeco meant to him. He responded:
• it's enjoyment and pleasure
• it's good time music
• it's music that comes with the feeling
• it's as much fun playing as it is dancing
It's refreshing to hear the pleasure T gets from the joy he brings to the dance community. He talked about it being a job like any other job at which he would have to work. He makes his living, playing Zydeco.
We talked about the energy. Once you become a Zydeco dancer, one of the ways you describe how good a band might be is by how much energy vibrates through the room. T Broussard's band produces the highest level of energy. T explained that he takes his job seriously but doesn't tell his band how to play. He knows that if he's UP than the band is UP with him. As soon as he starts to play, he gets into a groove and the energy feeds off of it, spreading to the band and down into the dancers. He summed it up by saying he has fun with it. Wow, what an incredible statement when you can have fun while doing your job.
Then the conversation turned to reveal the real source of T's current success. I asked his permission to tell his story and he responded that it was no secret. T lost five years of his life after being arrested and convicted of dealing drugs. During that time, the music was taken from him; first, during the time he was defending himself and then the 3 years he was incarcerated.
He explained he never really set out to be a Zydeco musician despite that fact that his family background gave him the perfect foundation and he has certainly demonstrated the talent. He began playing as a way to cover up the true source of his cash. If he were questioned he could point to his band, gigs and CD as his source of income.
Being incarcerated, T began to appreciate the gift of his musical talent. After his release, he has chosen to use that talent to make a respectable living. In his words, "a lot of guys go right back to that life, but not me, I learned my lesson the first time." He has learned to appreciate life more now and is focused on the music.
Two years ago, he regrouped his band and is building his recognition on the Zydeco Circuit. I asked him who would he site as being his greatest influence. He couldn't specifically define the influences that have shaped his style. He grew up immersed in it and never really studied different artist's styles. It just came to him naturally. In his words, he "feel's the music"; it is part of him.
When I asked him where his favorite place to play was, he responded that was difficult to say. He truly enjoys playing on the road because the music is appreciated more. On the other hand, playing at home is fun and relaxing because he's surrounded by family and friends. So each venue has its measure of reward.
After we concluded our conversation, I got to thinking about all T had revealed about himself and I wondered one last question. I email him on it and he responded by phone later that evening. I asked T, given his experience what advice would he give kids today. He said that most everyone thinks it can't happen to them, but "no matter what you are involved with, if you breaking the law, there are consequence to get down with. It's a no win situation." It can happen to anyone, even a kid from the bayou who had his own band, a successful career in Zydeco music, and his own CD. Bottom line, T said: "focus on the positive thing. If you make a mistake, learn from it."
T Broussard is getting ready to release his 3rd CD, once again produced by Keith Frank. Look for it around early June on his web site.
I want to publicly thank T Broussard for the time he took to speak with me and answer my questions candidly. It takes alot of courage to admit your mistakes. I admire T because he truly has turned his life around. Thank you T and I am looking forward to the next time I have the chance to dance to your music!