Delta Music Festival a success

Published 3:19 pm Sunday, April 8, 2007

Unusually brisk weather didn’t do much to slow down Saturday’s Delta Music Festival on Louisiana Avenue in Ferriday.

Area residents braved the cold, moving from one of more than 30 vendors to the next, pausing to dance in the street to the music of several bands or to shake hands with the Easter bunny.

“I think that this year was a success,” Delta Music Museum Director Judith Bingham said. “We have had some top-notch entertainment.”

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The festival included performances by the Combined Choir, The Penticostals of Miss-Lou, Madonna Massey, Lljuana Love and the Groveline band and Vince Vance and the Valiants.

The main event of the festival, emceed by Sam Jones, was the Delta Music Hall of Fame induction of John Fred Gourrier and musical duo Dale and Grace.

“It’s an honor for me and an honor for you to be able to get to see these folks up close,” Jones said.

Secretary of State Jay Dardenne presided over the induction ceremony.

“We’re here to celebrate Louisiana music and Louisiana culture,” Dardenne said.

“We’re also here today to celebrate these Louisiana Legends who put Louisiana on the map.”

The first induction was Gourrier, a Baton Rouge native whose hit song “Judy in Disguise [With Glasses]” was a No. 1 hit and sold more than five million copies.

Accepting his induction on behalf of Gourrier, who died in 2005, were his wife, Sandra, and son, Kevin.

“It’s such an honor to represent a man who has left such a wonderful legacy,” Sandra Gourrier said.

Kevin Gourrier agreed.

“To have the No. 1 hit in the world for two weeks is a hard thing,” he said.

The second induction was of Dale Houston and Grace Broussard for their No. 1 hit single “I’m Leaving it Up to You.”

Houston attended high school in Ferriday.

“It’s like coming home,” he said.

Backed by Vince Vance and the Valiants, Dale and Grace performed three songs as part of the ceremony, “Hey Baby,” “I’m Leaving it Up to You” and “Stop and Think it Over,” which made it to No. 8 on the charts.

The pair recorded “I’m Leaving it Up to You” the day after they met, and after the single met with success they went on tour with Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars.

One night, Clark walked out onto the stage before introducing the duo and read a telegram announcing that their single was No. 1 for the next week.

“That’s where it really took off,” said Houston.

“We’ve been singing together for more than 40 years.”

A lot of people think that the pair were married at one time, Broussard said.

“We were never married,” she said. “We work together, but we would have killed each other if we were married.”

Dale and Grace still perform together several times a year.

Houston lives in Meridian, and Broussard lives in Prarieville with her husband of 17 years, T.J. Leblanc.