One bridge between traditional Zydeco music and more modern influences has been provided by accordionist and vocalist, Willis Prudhomme. The leader of his own band, since the early '70s, Prudhomme received his greatest exposure when he and his band were invited to perform in the 1993 film, Passion Fish.
The brother of Charles Prudhomme, guitarist for John Delafose and the Eunice Playboys, and, Joseph "Slim" Prudhomme, who plays bass in his band, Prudhomme grew up in an impoverished sharecropping family. Originally a harmonica player, he was encouraged by his brothers to switch to the accordion.
A turning point in his musical growth came when he attended a country bazaar where Cajun accordionist Nathan Abshire was performing. Meeting Abshire after the show, he convinced him to teach him the fingering techniques that he used on the accordion.
Initially supplementing his income as a musician as a soybeans and rice farmer, Prudhomme didn't begin playing music full-time until joining drummer/vocalist Leo Thomas's band in the mid-'70s. He remained with the group for a decade, leaving in 1985 to form his own band, the Zydeco Express. Their debut album, Zydeco Live!, was a live recording shared with John Delafose and his group, the Eunice Playboys. Their first albums, on their own, Zydeco Express and Crawfish Got Soul, were released on the Maison de Soul label. Prudhomme and the Zydeco Express later recorded two albums for Eddie Shuler's Goldband label.
Prodhomme continues to tour with his band, featuring three members of the Ardoin family -- Dexter on drums, Gus on bass, and Pam on frottoir. ~ Craig Harris