One of zydeco's most soulful vocalists and fieriest accordionists, Terrance Simien was also among the music's most pop-oriented artists, infusing his sound with elements of R&B, funk, gospel and reggae. Born September 3, 1965 in Eunice, Louisiana, he first heard zydeco at local dances as a boy, but did not show any real interest in the music until it began growing in popularity during the early 1980s. After learning the accordion and writing a handful of songs in collaboration with his brother Greg, Simien formed his first band; in the years to follow, he honed his chops in area zydeco clubs each weekend, working as a bricklayer during the day. His big break arrived in 1984, when an appearance at the New Orleans World's Fair launched him to the attention of Paul Simon, with whom Simien recorded a cover of Clifton Chenier's "You Used to Call Me." He also was tapped to appear in the feature film The Big Easy, writing and performing a song with star Dennis Quaid. With his band the Mallet Playboys, Simien made his full-length debut in 1990 with Zydeco on the Bayou; There's Room for Us All followed in 1993, and after a six-year recording hiatus he returned with Positively Beadhead.
Terrance Simien, 2001
-- Jason Ankeny, All-Music Guide
The Tribute Sessions is honest and straight from the heart. Normally
discs that have talking about the songs or the reasons for doing the songs will inspire many to pass over the spoken word. This is not the case here -- it is partially Terrance's voice, his obvious love and veneration for these people, and the sincerity of these emotions that comes through (besides, some of these vignettes draw wonderful pictures). Most important is the material presented, and this is done with that energy and feeling for which this artist is known. He takes songs from those who have inspired and/or helped him, and are no longer living, and he does them in a way that is a tribute to the artist and the song. There are many surprises, some concerning the artists. Some concerning the songs he chooses by the artist may not be their best-known ones, however there is no surprise as to the quality of the music presented. He does such a fantastic job on Sam Cooke's "Rome Wasn't Built in a Day" that you may have trouble initially getting past it in on the disc, until you discover the gems following it. There is not a weak song here. This is that rare disc that transcends all genres of music and stands solid to repeated playing as it is music from the heart, and if anything only gets better and better.
-- Bob Gottlieb, All-Music Guide