A radio station in Switzerland features Donna Angelle’s music. A promoter in Brazil is anxious to work with her. Angelle’s travel log includes tours of Africa and France last year and upcoming gigs in Florida, California, Oregon and Washington. But gigs in her native southwest Louisiana are few and far between for this rare female voice in the male-dominated world of zydeco. But Angelle’s new CD, Guaranteed Lover, is starting to open some doors.
“Finally, people are starting to see me at home,” says Angelle, who lives in St. Martinville. “Before, you couldn’t buy a job at home and that’s sad. There’s so many musicians from here that people just don’t come out and see. They’re good musicians and people just don’t give us the opportunity. So we have to leave home. But I’m enjoying the road.”
Local fans have taken notice of Angelle’s latest CD. The 13-song CD features Angelle’s lively zydeco dance tunes as well as blues and R&B tunes on accordion and keyboards. Local zydeco radio shows have picked up on the bluesy title song as well as “Just My Imagination,” a version of the Temptations classic. The CD is even bringing Angelle to New Orleans. She plays at 3:15 p.m. April 18 at the French Quarter Festival.
An R&B performer for almost 30 years, Angelle released her first zydeco recording in 1995. By 2001, she was on her fourth CD and touring extensively. Fans around her hometown remember Angelle for the title song of her 1997 CD, Old Man’s Sweetheart, a tongue-in-cheek wish for a romantic rendezvous with zydeco pioneer Boozoo Chavis. In this racy shuffle, Angelle sings, “He might be too old to cut the mustard / but he can still lick the jar.” Chavis and his wife Leona took notice. They demanded to see her backstage at a festival in Humble, Texas.
“Somebody came to me and said, ‘Boozoo Chavis wants to see you’,” says Angelle. “I was so nervous. When I walked in the room, he said ‘You the lady who wrote that song?’
“I said, ‘Yes sir.’ He said, ‘I just want to thank you’ and my heart fell. All day long, he and his wife praised me. He gave me ideas, showed me the ropes and told me stuff about the road. I took that to heart.”