I been saving Jerry. Those of us at BAOTB want to give Jerry Devillier some special love and a shout out of gratitude for all he has brought to the world we love – Cajun music, Southwest Louisiana culture, photography, and, especially to the world of harmonica playing.

Jerry Devillier, born on May 20th, 1938, amidst the challenges of the Great Depression era, inherited a rich Cajun heritage. His parents, Amar “T-Frere” Devillier and Dula (Guillory) Devillier, were sharecroppers, shaping Jerry’s early life with the resilience and work ethic required by their circumstances. Jerry’s initial struggles with his stature made tending to fields difficult; he had to grasp the crossbar of a mule-drawn plow, allowing the mule to guide his plowing efforts. Despite these hardships, Jerry’s roots in L’anse Meg and his first experiences beyond his community painted the backdrop of his extraordinary journey.

Speaking only French until schooling introduced him to English, Jerry’s musical prowess soon became apparent. In high school, he secured second place in the prestigious State of Louisiana high school music talent competition by skillfully playing the harmonica, marking his entry into the music scene.

His time at U.S.L. (now U.L.L.) and his subsequent army draft set the stage for a varied career. He transitioned from teaching mathematics to becoming a professional photographer, renowned for his regional sports photography as well as his captures of Cajun life and culture. Amidst this journey, Jerry excelled in the harmonica, becoming a sought-after performer and collaborator.

Jerry’s harmonica talents were further enriched by his participation in the Mamou Cajun Band, comprising Cyprien and Adam Landreneau. Their performances resonated at prestigious festivals like the Newport Folk Festival, where they introduced authentic Cajun music to audiences, earning standing ovations and encores.

Beyond his musical achievements, Jerry’s devotion to teaching and preserving Cajun culture shines. He shared his knowledge through teaching video, audio, and production techniques for Cajun music radio and TV shows. His contributions were recognized by the State of Louisiana and the City of Eunice. As a member of S.P.A.H., the Society for the Preservation and Advancement of the Harmonica, Jerry’s mission to teach Cajun harmonica stands as a testament to his enduring commitment.

In recognition of his legacy, Jerry was inducted into the CFMA Lake Charles Chapter Cajun Music Hall of Fame and awarded the prestigious “LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD” by S.P.A.H. As an ambassador of Cajun heritage and a pioneer in preserving Cajun music, Jerry Devillier’s impact on music and culture remains profound.

Bio compiled by Neal P. Granger

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