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Cajun Country Pioneer Jimmy C. Newman: 1927-2014

Monday, 28 July 2014 08:44 AM Written by 

If one solo singer helped the Cajun style establish a beachhead in country that's grown and deepened, it was Jimmy "C." Newman (the "C" stood for Cajun). Newman, a Grand Ole Opry veteran, died June 21 in Nashville at age 86. Cajun music was considered by many as something apart from country, though that wasn't quite true. Louisiana sounds had been insinuating their way into the music and broke through in 1946 when fiddler Harry Choates had a national hit with the Bayou favorite "Jole Blon." Hank Williams followed in 1952 with "Jambalaya."

Born in Louisiana in 1927, Newman (real name Jimmy Yves Newman) began playing around the region  with entertainer Chuck Guillory. Newman made his first solo records in the late 40's including the ballad "Cry, Cry Darling," a standard country ballad.

Newman, landed a recording contract with Dot Records in 1954 and re-recorded "Cry" in Nashville. This version gave Newman his first country Top Ten.

"Cry, Cry Darlin'" (1954)

Newman had a few more honky-tonk style country hits. But with a slicker style of country, incorporating vocal choruses, emerging in the wake of Elvis, Newman had little choice but to adapt. The result was another hit ballad—the biggest of his career. The voices behind him are the Anita Kerr Singers.

"A Fallen Star" (1957)

Newman's Louisiana side was there, but he stuck to fare required to snare hit singles. That changed in 1961 when Cajun brothers Rusty and Doug Kershaw found Top Ten success with the unabashedly bayou-flavored "Louisiana Man." Their success helped Newman take his shot with this tune, co-written with Nashville bass player "Lightnin' Chance." It broke the Top 30, and afterward, he'd throw in similar material alongside his mainstream country records.

"Alligator Man" (From the Porter Wagoner Show-probably 1962)

"Thibodeaux And His Cajun Band" (From the Porter Wagoner Show-late 60's). Buck Trent, a member of Wagoner's band (and future Hee-Haw regular) is playing electric banjo.

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The growing popularity of Cajun music didn't bring Newman superstardom, but his role in popularizing it was undeniable. 

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