Nathan Wilson | Reporter
The Lacour Trio is a Creole Zydeco band formed in 2010 by Denver Shoup, Rainey LaCour and Natchitoches orchestra teacher Katrice LaCour. Along with his band mates’ skill with vocals, percussion and guitar, Katrice Lacour adds his vocal talents along with his skill with accordion, bass and trumpet to enhance the band’s repertoire.
LaCour describes his career as an orchestra teacher at the NSU Lab School as instrumental to his success. “You know how to get to Carnegie Hall?” he asks. “Practice. Any involvement in music, whether teaching or playing in the classroom and beyond enhances your skills and musicianship.” LaCour’s advice is best heeded, since his orchestra students were invited to perform at Carnegie Hall in 2019.
To LaCour, music presents an unrivalled opportunity for his students to improve academically. He points to educational and medical research to advocate for music programs in all grade levels. “Music involves the use of the whole brain,” he says. “When playing a musical instrument, studies show it improves memory, attention, physical coordination and mental development.”
Research into the health benefits of learning a musical instrument suggest that musicians enjoy a range of benefits such as faster reaction times and improved mental alertness as they age. LaCour is familiar with many of the benefits musicians enjoy and suggests even listeners can see advantages.
He offers examples. “Classical music stimulates the regeneration of brain cells,” he says. “Certain music improves the mood, intelligence, motivation and concentration.”
Teaching orchestra has offered him opportunities to improve his skills as a perfomer too. He describes using the experience to hone his musical skills. “Conducting on the podium with orchestras helps fine tune your ear, create a library of ideas and improves your interaction with others,” he says. If his busy schedule of summertime performances is any indication, he has also mastered his showmanship along the way. He offers some advice to young people who are interested in a musical career. “Get involved and expose yourself to different genres of music and surround yourself by musicians (who are) more advanced than yourself,” he says.
LaCour views his band’s music as serving a mission beyond entertainment. “The purpose of the LaCour Trio is to promote Creole heritage through music and dance,” he says. “It extends the life of creole culture and makes people aware of this type of culture and music.”
He describes his band’s musical repertoire as 80% zydeco with blues, pop and rock and roll making up the rest. The LaCour Trio’s efforts reflect growing interest in harnessing music and other forms of art to preserve linguistic and cultural traditions and reinforce community identities.
The LaCour Trio’s latest compositions include a set of five songs they performed at Magnolia Plantation in 2021 after the group was inducted into the Louisiana Folk Music Hall of Fame. LaCour describes the inspiration for some of his band’s songs. “Zydeco music often references Creole heritage in its lyrics and music. This is done by incorporating various creole lifestyles and creole folk tales in its lyrics and songs.”