2017 Cajun Award Recipient
Rusty Benoit was born August 17, 1943 in Geuydan, LA to Alcee and Gladys Benoit. While growing up he and his brothers helped his daddy in the rice fields. On weekends he and his brothers save their money and attended the local dances.
Rusty moved to Texas in 1995 and he joined the Cajun French Music Association. In March 2007 the Gulf Coast Cajuns Chapter CFMA was formed. In 2008 Rusty became president and the club flourished. Rusty enjoys promoting the Cajun heritage and tradition. He is known for promoting our youth and Texas Cajun musicians. Rusty and his Chapter are involved in lots of community non-profit organizations by cooking at different functions and bringing Cajun music, smiling and telling a story wherever he goes.
My name is Donovan Bourque, I’m fifteen years old. My parents are James and Gina Bourque and we live in Beaumont, Texas. I am being home schooled at the ninth grade level.
Growing up my Papaw would play his accordion to me while I sat on the kitchen table and spit all into his old harmonica. After he passed away, Mamaw gave me his old accordion, that’s when I started getting serious about Cajun music. My other Grandpa bought me my first new accordion, then two others. I took accordion lessons from Jerry Bellot for awhile, then learned from watching musicians on the internet. I have a strong love for old time Cajun music. I have had the honor of playing with some awesome musicians in the last several years.
I also play the drums, guitar, steel guitar, and I am learning the fiddle. When I’m not in school or playing music, I’m either fishing, hunting or working on my truck with my Dad.
Elizabeth Kelley is 18 years old and she started playing the Cajun accordion when she was 7 years old. Cajun music surrounded her as she grew up. She attended CFMA events and her family was always listening to Cajun music around the house. At a young age, Elizabeth, her family, and some friends started a band called The Dallas Street Ramblers. Throughout the years she has picked up other instruments such as the alto saxophone, guitar and keyboard. She hopes to continue on with her Cajun heritage for many years to come.
Eric Kelley is a 17 year old fiddler from Port Neches, Texas. He began playing his first musical instrument, the Cajun accordion, at age 6 after his stepdad bought one for himself and Eric immediately took interest. He was fascinated by the fiddle and asked for one for his 8th birthday. He used his knowledge of Cajun music that he had gained from playing the accordion and, along with his stepdad, began teaching himself Cajun fiddle. He has been playing for over 9 years and he does not plan on stopping anytime soon.
Dana Melancon was born and raised in Southeast Texas, which makes him more proud and dedicated in what he does. He graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School and went right on in to broadcasting being a disc jockey t local radio station KHYS. He is also very proud that he was the last “station announcer” hired at NBC in 1980.
Dana attended Mississippi University through correspondence and received his Certificate in Broadcast Meteorology. After 4 years, he was promoted to chief meteorologist for KDTV Fox 4. After the experiences of Hurricanes Rita and Ike he was fortunate enough to take part in the merger of KBTV and KFDM. Dana says his new home on the expanded Morning Show on Channel 6 and Fox 4 is a dream job for him.
Dana has emceed many events in Southeast Texas including Cavoilcade, Shrimpfest, Mardi Gras and many more. He has served on the Board of Directors for Girls Haven, Erhart School of Fine Arts and Athletics, Catholic Charities of Southeast Texas to name a few.
Dana likes all kinds of music; listening and playing. He spends his spare time dancing and cooking. He hosts, along with his wife Krissy , the Cajun Express on FREE FM 105.3 every Sunday morning from 6 am to 10 am.
Dana has one daughter, Kellie and two sons Parker and Kaleb. He has a wonderful sister and two brothers. He claims he has found a wonderful woman who puts up with all his activities and helps with all that’s given them. The family attends Infant Jesus Catholic Church in Lumberton.
Dana claims that his Cajun culture has always had an effect on everything he does. Everywhere they go they are thanked for “keeping the culture alive”. He now uses every platform given to him to promote the Cajun way of life and the importance of involving our children in all the Cajun events that we can attend.
Bridget D’Lane Roberts was born in Port Arthur, Texas. Raised by grandparents she attended many Cajun dances and music festivals. At 15 years old, with the help of her Uncle Blake and Jed and Jerry Bellot she began taking lessons in playing the accordion.
In 2013 she was crowned Miss Golden Triangle cfma; in 2014 she had the opportunity to be the Senior Miss Gulf Coast Cajun Queen; 2015 she was selected to be Miss LeCajun Queen over 11 chapters of the Cajun Music Association. Bridget has the opportunity to play many places and festivals. She has also sat in and played with many great area bands around Texas and Louisiana, including Kevin Naquin and Jamie Bergeron.
Bridget’s love for her heritage and music is what makes her keep pushing forward. She wants to pass on our traditions to the next generation and teach them what our culture is all about.