Vin Bruce

 

Overview

photograph of Vin Bruce

Vin Bruce (Ervin Bruce, Cut Off, Lousiana, April 25, 1932 - June 8, 2018) was an American Cajun singer, one of the first Cajun musicians to appear on the Louisiana Hayride and Grand Ole Opry.

Bruce was born in Cut Off, Louisiana. His father, Levy Bruce, worked as a trapper and fisherman, and played fiddle at local Cajun dances, usually held in someone's front room. Being from a musical family, Vin's interest in Cajun music grew and at the early age of 10 he learned how to play the guitar on his own. He also learned to sing.

Bruce began his musical career playing guitar with the Southern Serenaders and the Hillbilly Swing Kings.

On October 22, 1951, Bruce signed a recording contract with Columbia Records in Nashville, Tennessee and recorded all time popular Cajun songs such as "Dans La Louisiane" (1952), "Fille de la Ville," and "Clair de la Lune," recording with Chet Atkins, Grady Martin, Tommy Jackson, Owen Bradley and Shook Jackson. Vin was one of the first Cajuns to perform on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry and the Louisiana Hayride.

In the mid-1950s, Vin's career took a downturn as Rock and Roll became popular. Columbia released his contract, and Vin returned to Louisiana and raised cattle. In 1961 he signed a contract with Swallow Records, and had a hit single with Jole Blon.

For his contribution and performance in Cajun music, Bruce is known as "the King of Cajun Singers" and has been inducted into the Nashville Music Hall of Fame, the CFMA Cajun Music Hall of Fame, the Westbank Musicians Hall of Fame, and was chosen the Lafourche Parish Citizen of the Year.

Discography

1953 My mama said I'd stay single
1961 Jole Blon
1979 Greatest Hits
1979 Cajun Country
2000 Essential Collection
2000 "Carousel for Two
2006 Cajun Legend!



Vin Bruce grew up in the musical environment provided by his father, whose fiddle playing for the local Cajun dances influenced Bruce to take up the guitar and write music. He honed his smooth and gentle vocal style by playing with local groups, and by the age of 18, Bruce decided to take his career solo and caught the ears of Columbia Records. He recorded a number of 78s with Columbia between 1951-1956, scoring a hit with "Dans la Louisianne," which made him one of the first Cajun musicians to gain national attention, even landing him on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry, where he befriended Hank Williams, Chet Atkins, and others. When the first wave of rock & roll devoured the industry, Bruce was dropped from Columbia, and while he maintained a much lower national profile, he was still lauded as among the best Cajun singers of all time by fans of the genre. Juggling a day job on an oil rig (he could no longer support himself on music alone) and a singing career, Bruce remained somewhat busy between the 1960s and the 1990s, releasing several albums and singles on various small labels. He continued to play regularly in and around Louisiana, and eventually he converted a barn into a recording studio and released the album Carousel for Two on the Louisiana Red record label in the fall of 2000.
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