Nashville-based independent roots music label Compass Records is proud to announce the new signing of GRAMMY award-winning Cajun group BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet. The relationship grew organically—Doucet first collaborated with Compass Records on the eponymous GRAMMY-nominated Fiddlers 4 album with fellow fiddle powerhouses Darol Anger, Bruce Molsky and cellist Rushad Eggleston in 2002—and, in 2012, he reconnected with Compass co-owners Alison Brown and Garry West while performing at the 2011 National Folk Festival in Nashville. This meeting sparked a conversation between the two parties and, a short time later, the band inked the deal and has begun work on their Compass Records debut album, From Bamako to Carencro, slated for release in early 2013.
The title takes its name from the cultural connection between Bamako, in Mali, West Africa and Louisiana, symbolized in name by the Lafayette, LA suburb of Carencro, but that’s not the only cultural connection at work. “BeauSoleil has brought Cajun/Creole-rooted music to the world since 1975, and Nashville and the land of the bayous have been sharing musicians and songs since the early 1920s. I’m looking forward to expanding and retelling some of these musical occurrences on our new Compass release,” says Doucet. Michael Pillot, BeauSoleil’s manager and the album’s producer adds: “Cajun music’s blend of blues & country music with a profound French influence has seen a steady stream of talent flowing from Louisiana to Nashville beginning in the late 20’s thru today. The likes of Doug Kershaw (Johnny Cash wrote the liner notes for Doug’s debut LP), Jimmy C. Newman, Jo-el Sonnier, D. L. Meynard, Tony Joe White and Lucinda Williams have had very successful associations with various labels from the Nashville community. Our relationship with Compass will continue that time honored tradition.”
BeauSoleil, hailed by Garrison Keillor of NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion as “the best Cajun band in the world,” is the most well known band performing traditional and original folk music from the Cajun culture in Louisiana. And, with flavors of jazz, blues and rock and roll, the band’s cross-genre appeal and instrumental prowess make them a natural fit within the Compass Records’ renowned roster. “Over the years, Compass has tried to be a beacon of quality for roots music of all genres,” comments Compass co-founder Garry West, “As we continue to grow our roster in all directions, we’re delighted to welcome an act of such distinction as BeauSoleil, one of the great modern proponents of Cajun music. The fact that the greatest Cajun band in the world has chosen to align with us is tremendously validating and affirms the value of Compass’ artist-oriented label model.”
With international acclaim and ceaseless touring, BeauSoleil represents the pantheon of Cajun music and musicians. The band features Michael Doucet on fiddle and lead vocals, brother David Doucet on guitar and vocals, Billy Ware on percussion Tommy Alesi on drums and Mitchell Reed on bass and fiddle. They have had music featured on the HBO hit series Treme and have an upcoming full band performance during the final season of the show. The band has performed at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival for over the last three decades as well as the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, The Voodoo Festival (where, this year, Doucet was a special guest of Thomas Dolby), and are frequent guests on NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion.
Compass Records has been called “one of the greatest independent labels of the last decade” by Billboard Magazine. The label group is home to diverse artists such as Colin Hay, Altan, Peter Rowan, Victor Wooten and Luka Bloom, and through the acquisition of Green Linnet and Mulligan Records hosts the largest catalog of Celtic music in the world. The company also handles distribution for UK-based folk music label Navigator Records and the iconic Americana imprint Dead Reckoning.