BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Sean Ardoin was packing up along the New Orleans Waterfront around 9:30 p.m. on a Wednesday night. He and his band, a six man ensemble had just played a gig on the Creole Queen. Their music accompanied dinner and a tour on the riverboat as it moved through the waters.
"I play accordion, the drums and sing. We all kind of pick up different instruments."
Ardoin had received notice this week that he had been elected to the Memphis Chapter of The Recording Academy, that organization that chooses the Grammy winners every year, and sponsors the Grammy Awards program.
Ardoin has been performing since he was 12. His grandfather, Alphonse "Boi Sec" was a 1986 National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellow.
Ardoin is Creole and Cajun music royalty. He plays gospel music and just as easily crosses over into Cajun or Zydeco. But he had failed repeatedly to get on the Grammy board, the selection group and failed. Then he got this week's email.
"I was used to getting emails in the mail with rejections, where I was nominated seven years in a row. But this year was different," says Ardoin "I quit my job March 31st. And I said, 'Everything's going down this year. I was going against Terrance Simien and Capone the hip hop artist, and I had no hope, and said, 'It's my year. My year. That next morning I work up and realized, wow I made it!"
As a governor of the Memphis Chapter, Ardoin will help the Memphis Chapter guide Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee to Memphis and Missouri to St. Louis. He'll also recruit new voting members.
"It gets me in a position to do more work," Ardoin says. "What it is, I have a goal to get more people involved in the process for the Grammys. That's what I do as a board member and to make the Grammys more reflective of the industry, I've got to get musicians who qualify to be part of the process.
There are a lot of gospel artists who qualify who aren't members. But I don't think they know they can be members. There are a lot of rock and roll and country members represented, but if you put out two songs, nationally released, I-tunes, a recognized distribution thing, you qualify. And with the advent of indie artists and independent labels, everybody is putting out CDs and they are doing that and don't know they qualify (to participate in the Grammy process)."
Ardoin says he'll recruit jazz and blues artists in Baton Rouge for the Grammy organization. Look for him.
"I'll be coming to Baton Rouge to sign up musicians," he says. "I graduated from LSU," he adds.
Ardoin attended from 1987 to 1994. He marched in Tiger Band for three years. Buth is major was not fine arts, music, however, because he was already a working musician.
"I was a hustle major," he lets go a bellylaugh, "I graduated with a bachelor of arts degree, general studies. I originally went for a physical therapy degree, but I had a physics class. That changed my major. I needed a decent GPA, so I switch to General Studies so that I could get that degree."
Sean Ardoin will use his Cajun spunk to shoot South Louisiana culture into the Grammy voting process. His term as a Memphis Board trustee lasts two years. His first official meeting is scheduled for June 27, 2016 in Memphis.