Formed during the Cajun revival of the 1970s, BeauSoleil and its founder, fiddler Michael Doucet, are among Louisiana’s most prominent ambassadors of Cajun music and culture. The band is particularly known and respected for emphasizing a wide range of Cajun musical traditions. Never content to recreate precise historical renderings of traditional Cajun music, BeauSoleil highlights the music’s inherent adaptability by incorporating elements of zydeco, blues, swamp pop, traditional New Orleans jazz, calypso, country, western swing, and rock and roll. Having recorded more than two dozen albums, BeauSoleil has received eleven nominations and two Grammy awards.

The band’s unique combination of musical innovation and tradition reflect Doucet’s own instincts and previous experiences. His apprenticeships with Dennis McGee, a Cajun fiddler heavily influenced by French musical traditions, and Canray Fontenot, a Creole musician who incorporated elements of Afro-Caribbean culture, proved particularly influential. For Doucet, musical traditions were dynamic rather than static; he understood that folk music had absorbed multiple influences over centuries and believed it must continue to do so in order to remain alive and relevant. “Everything I play I learned from Louisiana,” he told Fiddler Magazine interviewer Niles Hokkanen. “I went back in time—not only to French music, but to blues, jazz, popular music, Irish music, whatever was there. As more old records are brought to light, you can see those influences and what a hotbed Louisiana was … so, my influences are the spectrum of Louisiana music.”

The band’s studio output slowed considerably in the first decade of the twenty-first century, but BeauSoleil is still regarded as “an American institution,” as musician/music journalist James Christopher Monger observed in a review of their 2009 Grammy-nominated release, Alligator Purse. Numerous organizations have also honored Doucet’s contribution to traditional Cajun music.