It’s only the second time it’s happened in the 92 year-old Natchitoches Christmas Festival. This year’s Saturday night headline entertainer, Louisiana musical legend Wayne Toups, will also be the Grand Marshal of the Festival of Lights Parade. One of the most commercially successful American Cajun performers, Toups will be on stage at 4 p.m., Festival Day, Saturday, Dec. 1.
Toups is considered one of the greatest ambassadors for Cajun music and has also been a tremendous supporter of the Natchitoches music scene. He has been a frequent performer at not only the Christmas Festival, he’s been involved in numerous Natchitoches Jazz and R&B Festivals. For the last two years he’s lent his talents to a Christmas musical show featuring some of the elites on the Louisiana musical scene. He first picked up an accordion when he was 13 and quickly began winning local accordion contests. Singing in both English and Cajun, he has combined Cajun music, zydeco, R&B and rock into a genre he calls Zydecajun. The Grammy Award winning Toups has carried the sounds of Cajun music and zydeco to over 26 countries, including South America, Canada, Europe and the Far East. He’s even appeared on MTV and on a Super Bowl telecast.
Born in Crowley, Toups has received numerous awards and honors throughout his career. He’s a member of the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame, the Gulf Coast Hall of Fame and the Cajun French Music Hall of Fame. He’s become a Natchitoches favorite performing many times and most recently as part of the “Rocking Louisiana Christmas” musical production last December. Toups has been featured playing the accordion on singles for many country music stars. He appears on the Mark Chesnutt #1 hit, “It Sure Is Monday”; on Clay Walker’s “Live Laugh Love”; and on Alan Jackson’s “Little Bitty”.
He’s also played with Sammy Kershaw, George Jones, Mark Wills, Garth Brooks and Ty England. Toups released his first album, Wayne Toups and the Crowley Aces in Europe in the late 1970s, while just in his 20s. In 1986 he released the album, Zydecajun. Three of his songs, including wedding favorite “Take My Hand”, were featured in the movie Dirty Ric, and some of his work is also featured on the soundtracks for the movie Steel Magnolias and the television show “Broken Badges.”
He has recorded for the major record labels Mercury/Polygram and Mercury. His 1995 release, Back to the Bayou became the fastest-selling record ever for the independent Louisiana label Swallow Records.