Since the mid-'70s, Michael Doucet has been one of the dominant figures of the Cajun music revival, respected for his scholarship and admired for his showmanship. On the one hand, Doucet dredges up ancient Cajun tunes with medieval French roots, and on the other, plays flamboyant fiddle with Beausoleil. Aside from Beausoleil, singer and fiddler Doucet has performed and recorded with the more purely traditional Savoy-Doucet Cajun Band. He is as passionate about Cajun tradition as he is eager to drop-kick it into the 21st century, and for that reason, Doucet has earned the applause of both purists and plebians who just want to boogie.
Following a family tradition, Doucet played music from his earliest years, mastering banjo at the age of five and guitar at eight. Like others of the era, he was influenced by rock music, although Cajun music was ever-present. Doucet played in folk-rock bands with his cousin, Zachary Richard, at the age of 12, then joined a Cajun rock group. In 1974, he and Richard visited France and after his return to the U.S., he learned violin, which quickly became his principal instrument. Additionally, he plays guitar as well as mandolin and accordion, and also sings.
Deeply influenced by older musicians such as Amédé Ardoin and especially Dennis McGee (who became a friend), Doucet and a group of like-minded friends formed a band in 1975, naming it Coteau. He also formed Beausoleil with Kenneth and Sterling Richard in 1977. With Beausoleil, Doucet blended elements of traditional Cajun music with zydeco, adding hints of jazz, blues, and country. In 2005, Doucet and Beausoleil received a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts, and in 2007 were awarded a United States Artists Grant. The band has been nominated many times for Grammy awards, and won for Best Traditional Folk Album with 1997's L'Amour Ou La Folie. Among many pieces Doucet has composed for his band are "Chanson D’Acadie," "Bunk's Blues," "Conja," "Newz Reel," "Quelle Belle Vie," "L'Ouragon," and "Freeman’s Zydeco," the latter in collaboration with Fremont Fontenot.
Doucet has performed frequently in concert and on record in a trio, the Savoy-Doucet Cajun Band, with Marc and Ann Savoy. He has also worked with Bruce Molsky, Darol Anger, and Rushad Eggleston as Fiddlers 4, and recorded several solo albums. Since 1977, Doucet has been involved in education and has been adjunct professor at the University of Southwestern Louisiana in Lafayette. ~ Mark A. Humphrey