A ukulele wasn’t what the young Barbara Lynn expected.
It was an innocent mistake on the part of Lynn’s mother, who was trying to buy her young grade-school daughter a guitar. So the girl in Beaumont, Texas dutifully tried to learn how to play the instrument that made Tiny Tim famous, before switching to piano. The piano didn’t feel right, either. At church on Sundays, women always played the piano, and Lynn wanted to try something different. Her siren call was her transistor radio; in the mid-50s, the airwaves brought her the explosive voice of sultry Chicago soul and blues belter Etta James, the slurred, intoxicating guitar playing of Jimmy Reed and the plaintive, single-note phrasing of B.B. King. Those were the sounds that Barbara Lynn wanted to make, and eventually her parents relented and bought her a guitar.
Lynn’s mother and father were from Arnaudville, and every summer the young Lynn would leave Beaumont and spend her summers in Lafayette and Acadiana. “My cousin from Arnaudville, he’d teach me the guitar licks,” says Lynn in a telephone interview from her Beaumont home. “I stopped being interested in the piano and he already knew how to play the blues, and I’d always ask him to show me things on the guitar. I knew that I wanted to play this instrument. It was an odd instrument for a girl to play, but I wanted to try it. And it paid off.”
It’s still paying off. Lynn, who plays Lafayette’s Grant Street Dancehall this Friday with blues guitarist Sue Foley, dobro player Cindy Cashdollar, bassist Sarah Brown and drummer Lisa Pankratz for the season finale of Louisiana Crossroad’s eighth season, is a trailblazer who broke through in the male-dominated formative years of rock ’n’ roll. As a young African-American woman playing guitar left-handed, she conjured up images of a female Jimi Hendrix. Yet in her songs, craftsmanship and personality, Lynn has always defied labels and stereotypes in her music and the music business. She’s never smoked, drank, or done drugs. After she got married, she vanished from the music scene in the 1970s for more than a decade to raise her three children. Now at the age of 66, she’s a doting grandmother — and prepping to go into the studio next month to record a brand-new album for famed blues label Antone’s from Austin, Texas.
Lynn is also one of the most inspiring examples of the rich musical exchange between Louisiana and Texas. I-10 helped shaped the sound and careers of Clifton Chenier, Doug Kershaw, Marcia Ball, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Delbert McClinton and more, and Lynn knows that territory as well as anyone. She was a Creole girl raised in Beaumont, discovered by a renowned Cajun swamp singer and Cajun record producer, and recorded her breakthrough single in the famed New Orleans studio where Fats Domino created his biggest hits. For that and more, Lynn earned the nickname “The Empress of Gulf Coast Soul.” And she did it by rocking the world at the tender age of 20.
Louisiana Crossroads Season 8 Finale: Barbara Lynn, Sue Foley, Cindy Cashdollar, Sarah Brown and Lisa Pankratz
Wednesday, March 12, Central School Theater,
Lake Charles, 7 p.m.
Thursday, March 13, 2008, Manship Theatre, Baton Rouge, 7 p.m.
Friday, March 14, 2008 Grant Street Dancehall, Lafayette, 8 p.m.
For more info or to purchase tickets, visit LouisianaCrossroads.org or call (337) 233-7060.
Ponderosa Stomp, April 29-30, New Orleans (for more info, visit www.ponderosastomp.com)
Congratulations to Stella Theriot and seven friends who will enjoy a private dinner hosted by INDEats and EatLafayette
The City-Parish Council on Tuesday will be asked to sign off on an agreement between UL Lafayette and Lafayette Consolidated Government that would expand mass transit opportunities for UL students by adding five additional buses to its shuttle run between Cajun Field and campus.
Four bedroom traditional or three bedroom French home
Louisiana's high school seniors are making increased strides on Advanced Placement exams.
The hip little River Ranch shop will open in the Acadiana Center for the Arts in time for the September ArtWalk.
Hot prints and cool wolves
The Alabama game is sold out but tickets for all other homes games can be purchased online at www.LSUtix.net.
Among the one-percenters nationally, Louisiana's fattest cat is a relative pauper.
The Republican governor sent a letter Thursday to the president, saying placement of the children in Louisiana could have "potential negative ramifications."
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Responding to Tuesday’s federal appeals court decision to save Mississippi’s lone abortion clinic, Esquire magazine profiles the unique story behind one of the doctors working at the clinic in Jackson.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
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Breakfast favorites served on a bubbly crust pair with a crisp salad
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West coast casual
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Four bedroom traditional Youngsville home or three bedroom traditional Broussard home
On Tuesday, a three judge panel (voting two to one) of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down as unconstitutional Mississippi’s controversial law requiring that physicians who perform abortions maintain admitting privileges in a nearby hospital.
Safety Jairus Byrd practiced with the New Orleans Saints on Tuesday for the first time since his signing in March.
Sentencing has been delayed for a businessman who provided key testimony in the corruption case that resulted in the conviction of former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin.
The spectre of priest sex abuse has returned to haunt the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lafayette following the recent release of an investigative report by Minnesota Public Radio, revealing new allegations of another child predator hiding behind the clerical collar.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
A ballpark snack topped with BBQ meat can be found cruising town on a food truck
"Although the administration is moving forward with climate change regulations at home, we don't consider how policy decisions in the United States impact greenhouse gas emissions in other parts of the world," says Roger Martella, the former general counsel at the Environmental Protection Agency under President George W. Bush.