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The Devil Went Down To New Iberia
Johnny Sonnier’s frenetic accordion defined a new Cajun music style.
Herman Fuselier

Johnny Sonnier refers to Cajun music as his blessing. Originals and covers that Sonnier put his own stamp on decades ago are some of the most requested on Cajun radio in southwest Louisiana.

For 27 years, Sonnier was a dancehall king, often playing seven nights a week. His work put him in the Cajun French Music Association’s Hall of Fame in 2017.

Sonnier credits a knack for knowing what Cajun music fans like. “I was blessed with being able to distinguish how to put songs together and what I thought would make hits,” said Sonnier, 59, who lives near Lafayette, Louisiana. “So far, it’s been good.

“It’s mostly songs that tell a story or something that I’ve lived. I never thought I would have gone this far when I first started. A lot of it has to do with the musicians I was blessed to play with.”

Sonnier had more blessings last August when he swept the Le Cajun Awards, Grammy-style honors that the CFMA issues annually. A Tribute to Aldus Roger & More, an album Sonnier recorded with longtime BeauSoleil accordionist Jimmy Breaux, claimed Best Male Vocalist (Sonnier), Best Accordionist (Breaux), Best Fiddler (Joshua Richard), Band of the Year, Best Traditional CD of the Year and Best First CD (Sonnier and Breaux).

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November 2019

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