Marc Broussard | Blue Eyed Soul From the Bayou

live_broussard_smBroussard's singing voice bears a striking resemblance to his idol, Stevie Wonder, but as he steps onto the small stage in Blueberry Hill's Duck Room, he looks more like your average college fraternity guy than a soul legend, clad in baggy jeans, an untucked, button-down oxford and a tweed cap, with a soft beard and soft blue eyes.

 

 

 

 

Marc Broussard is the real deal. An honest to God Cajun, he was born and bred in the suburban town of Carencro, La., just outside of Lafayette in Southwest Louisiana. "Carencro is a hub of Cajun culture, a very special place," Broussard tells me in a brief phone interview the day prior to his sold-out show at Blueberry Hill's Duck Room in St. Louis. "I was surrounded by the Cajun music as well as being influenced by my father's taste in Jazz and R&B, which predominantly molded my taste in music."

In fact, Broussard played his first show with his father, Louisiana Hall of Fame guitarist Ted Broussard, at the age of five. Ted taught Marc to love soul music while playing around town in the Gulf Coast soul band The Boogie Kings. Broussard, now 25, was singing like the style's founders by his teens.  

Broussard's singing voice bears a striking resemblance to his idol, Stevie Wonder, but as he steps onto the small stage in Blueberry Hill's Duck Room, he looks more like your average college fraternity guy than a soul legend, clad in baggy jeans, an untucked, button-down oxford and a tweed cap, with a soft beard and soft blue eyes. Broussard is currently touring to promote his latest album, S.O.S.:  Save Our Soul (Vanguard), a collection of 11 covers of great soul classics including Al Green's "Love and Happiness" (the album's first single), Stevie Wonder's "You Met Your Match," Otis Redding's "I've Been Loving You Too Long," and the Staple Singers' "Respect Yourself" among others.

Although these songs were recorded long before Broussard's own birth, he hopes to bring a new appreciation for old-school soul music to the next generation of fans. "Soul music grew out of the church, out of gospel, but somewhere along the way it lost its heart," he says. "I want to give that heart—the good vibes, the happiness, the love—back to the music and back to the people, whether it's a new generation who've never heard what genuine soul sounds like or listeners who grew up on it."

The idea for S.O.S. also came out of necessity, Broussard explains, as it had been a while since he had put out a record. "I had one recorded and ready to be released, and Island, my previous record company, said they didn't like the record but they weren't going to give it to me either," he says. "I severed ties with them because of that situation.  Then I just came up w/ the idea for this record, and we were able to pull it together in an incredibly short amount of time."

The album is doing quite well. In fact, it's the first of Broussard's to hit the Top 100 on the Billboard charts. Perhaps this is why he appears in such fine spirit this summer evening in St. Louis, as he literally bounds to the stage, unexpectedly at 9 p.m., when his opening act, Toby Lightman, was scheduled to begin. Broussard proceeded to warm up for his warm up, treating the anxious crowd to some pre-show grooves including Joe Cocker's "You Can Leave Your Hat On," then introduced Lightman and sat in with her for "If I Can Build my Whole World Around You," a cover of the duet by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell the two sing together on S.O.S.. When he left the stage to Lightman for her opening set, the crowd was already completely pumped.

When Lightman completed her 45-minute set, without missing a beat (literally, the drummer was playing the whole time), Broussard returned to the stage and opened his set with "Papa Was a Rolling Stone," then brought Lightman back out to perform Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" with him.

Broussard's set was amazing from start to finish. His voice soared in the tiny, intimate basement of the Duck Room. It's hard to believe such a big, deep, soulful sound comes out of this seemingly mild-mannered, short, stocky, white guy.

live_broussardJust after performing crowd favorite "Rock Steady," from his album Carencro, Broussard had a surprise for the crowd that cannot go unmentioned. He said, "I have a good friend here tonight, Mike Cassimatis. Where are you, Mike? You got a lady with you? You need to bring her up here." The young couple made their way on stage where, to his girlfriend Lauren Wieser's shock, he dropped to one knee, pulled out a velvet box and popped the question in front of the cheering audience. Wieser managed to blurt out an excited "Yes," they kissed and Broussard launched into "Love You More Than You'll Ever Know," as the newly engaged couple danced along side the stage.

With good vibes filling the room, Broussard continued to keep the crowd moving with "Love and Happiness" as well as a great cover of 80s club favorite "The Bird" by Morris Day and The Time. He closed the show with two favorites from Carencro, "Wanderer" and "Home," both of which the adoring crowd sang along with in unison.  I felt really privileged to have seen Broussard in this intimate venue so early on in his career, because I have no doubt that if you've never heard of Marc Broussard before, you'll be hearing about him a lot in the near future.

He's toured with Maroon 5, the Dave Matthews Band, Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt and Gavin DeGraw, to name just a few. When I ask who his favorite artist was to share a stage with, he doesn't hesitate for a moment. "Bonnie Raitt by leaps and bounds above everyone else," he tells me in an accent as thick and swampy as the Louisiana bayou itself. "She's bad to the bone."  And if he could work with any artist he has yet to have a chance to? You guessed it, Stevie Wonder. As "bad to the bone" as Broussard himself is, I'd imagine that dream will come true for him in due time.

Sometimes you go see a performer and it's just a nice night out with some good music, then you go home and forget about. But sometimes you see a performer who rises above the venue and the show and the moment to truly touch your soul in a lasting way. That is what Marc Broussard did for me, and I thank him for it. I cannot wait to hear what he does next. | Amy Burger

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