Grammy Award-Winning Cajun and Country Recording Artist Jo-El Sonnier Dies at Age 77

By Calcasieu Staff
Published January 14, 2024

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Louisiana – Grammy Award-winning Cajun and country recording artist, Jo-El Sonnier, passed away on Saturday, January 13, 2024, at the age of 77 while on tour in Texas. The Louisiana legend had just completed a Saturday night show at the Llano Country Opry in Llano, Texas when he suffered a major heart attack shortly after his performance.

Born to French-speaking sharecroppers in Rayne, Louisiana, Sonnier’s musical journey began at a young age. He started playing the accordion at the tender age of 6 and even performed on the radio. His talent was evident as he made his first recordings at just 11 years old. By the age of 13, he was already running the Duson Playboys and had been gigging ever since.

Sonnier’s career took off when he signed with Mercury Nashville Records in the 1970s. He recorded Cajun music on the Rounder Records label and was even nominated for a Grammy with Rounder Records. However, his musical path took a turn when he opened for the legendary Merle Haggard, which led him back to country music. In the 1990s, Sonnier moved to Capitol Records and received Grammy nominations for his work.

Known for his hits like “No More One More Time” and “Come On Joe,” Jo-El Sonnier made a significant impact on the music industry. His albums “Cajun Pride” and “Cajun Blood” received Grammy nominations, and he was inducted into The Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2009. In 2013, he released the traditional Cajun French album “The Legacy,” which won him his first Grammy as the 2015 Regional Roots Music Album of the Year.

During his career, Sonnier collaborated with many other Cajun musicians. His influence on young musicians was immense, as he inspired many with his talent and dedication to his craft. Despite his success, Sonnier never forgot his French heritage and the people who shaped him.

The music world mourns the loss of a true legend, Jo-El Sonnier. His contributions to Cajun and country music will forever be remembered, and his legacy will continue to inspire generations to come.

Featured image source: David Simpson (cajunzydecophotos), CC BY-SA 2.0