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Blues guitarist and vocalist Joseph "Roscoe" Chenier of Opelousas was born in 1941 and raised in St. Landry Parish. The son of Arthur and Philomen Chenier, he was a cousin of the late, Zydeco artist Clifton Chenier. He learned to play the guitar at the age of 17 from his cousin John Robinson, at John's home in Nolterville. For the next 37 years, Roscoe dreamed of making a big break in the music business.
Despite a single that became a popular, highly sought after collector's item recorded in 1962 in a home studio, Chenier had a long wait for a national recording deal. He remained faithful to the rhythm and blues music tradition for almost four decades. Backed by his former band, the "Blues Snapp Band," and now by his last current band, the "Inner City Blues Band," he was a popular performer at southwest Louisiana clubs and festivals. His repertoire consisted of jumping boogie numbers, low-down blues tunes, and soulful scorcher numbers.
In 1994, Roscoe Chenier got the break he long dreamed of, he signed a four-record deal with Avenue Records, which is affiliated with Warner Brothers, Electra, and Atlantic Records. The company was based out of Los Angeles and handled national sales and distribution of Chenier's CD. It was titled, "Roscoe Chenier," recorded in the early days on Vidrine Records in Plaisance. "It's been so many years that I've been waiting for this, I just feel really, really good," he said.
He was a full-time musician who performed at least three times a week at clubs and festivals. He toured the United States and Europe, and played throughout Louisiana at events such as the Louisiana Folklife Festival.
Updated November 30, 2016 by Natchitoches-NSU Louisiana Folklife Center Staff