(CelebrityAccess) — Emerson “Ray” Abshire, the noted Cajun accordionists and vocalist who performed with the Balfa Brothers band, died on Tuesday. He was 68.
A native of South Louisiana, Abshire came of age in the final years of the dance hall circuit and joined the 5 Balfa Brothers in their group in the late 1960s.
Abshire helped to bring the regional Cajun and Zydeco sounds to a wider audience, both in the U.S. and internationally, performing at institutions such as The Kennedy Center in New York, and the House of World Cultures in Berlin.
Abshire was a member of the Louisiana Folk Artist Hall of Fame and, joined by his sons Travis and Brent, continued to perform up until his passing.
His final album, 2013’s “All Night Long” was the winner of the Cajun French Music Association’s “Peoples Choice” award in 2014.
According to an obituary published by his family, Abshire is survived by his wife of 48 years, Peggy S. Abshire; mother, Mary Louise Cormier; stepmother, Shirley Abshire; two sons, Travis Abshire and Brent Abshire and wife, Pam; grandchildren, Maddux, Kaden, Isaiah, Audrey, E.J., and Andre Abshire; two brothers, James Leprette and Todd Abshire.
Ray performing at Fred’s Lounge in Mamou last year.