Freedom Over Texas
Lil Nathan and the Zydeco Big Timers
Few zydeco artists can claim a gig at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, home of the NFL’s New Orleans Saints and host of Super Bowls, NCAA Football Championships and other well-known world renowned events. Nathan Williams Jr was blessed with the great opportunity of performing at the “Dome” for the prestigious 2013 Bayou Classic, the annual football showdown between Southern University and Grambling State University, this event draws more than 50,000 people to the Superdome. Lil Nate performed his original hit, “Go Hard or Go Home,” during the halftime show with the renowned Grambling State Marching Band. The show was a major feature for any artist, but big events have become business as usual for Lil Nate, an artist at the top of his zydeco game.
Lil Nate’s sound, experience and stage presence actually goes back to his childhood. At the age of 5, he was playing rubboard in his father’s legendary band, Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas, one of the top legendary Zydeco bands touring across the country. He moved on to the drums and then the accordion, finding in his father an excellent teacher and role model.
In 2002, at the age of 14, Lil Nate was a freshman at Lafayette’s Northside High School when he recorded his first CD with the Big Timers, “Zydeco Ballin.” Lil Nate followed-up with his second CD release “Doin’ It Big Time,” this disc gave birth to the radio hits, “That L’argent,” an English and Creole dance tune about the pitfalls of money. With fans calling him “The L’argent Man” and the “Baby Boy of Zydeco,” Lil Nate became one of the top attractions on the zydeco circuit. A continuous string of hits, like “Dead Wrong,” “How You Feel Tonight,” “Cuddle Up,” Don’t Hit Me Catin” and “Dead Wrong” have followed.
Along the way, he’s opened up for many talented artists such as Keith Sweat, Tank, New Edition, Dru Hill, and many more. He’s also performed the stages of Universal Studios in Orlando, Fla. the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, DC, the Houston International Festival and numerous New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festivals.
He’s shared the studio with triple- platinum R&B artist Cupid of “Cupid Shuffle”, Hip Hop artist Juvenile, Hip Hop artist Kevin Gates, Southern Soul artist Tucka, and many other musical greats in the industry.
Lil Nate has not just relied on his zydeco success, in 2008, he graduated with a degree is jazz studies from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. This accomplishment allowed him to achieve a fragment of his future goal by becoming a music and vocals teacher.
A master of the single note and triple row accordion, Lil Nate continues to serve as an instructor in UL’s traditional music program, part of the Dr. Tommy Comeaux Endowed Chair in Traditional Music. He trains students in the Zydeco Ensemble, which finishes each semester with a public showcase of their new skills.
“Life is good,” quotes Lil Nathan. “I’m truly grateful for where I’ve been and the blessings to come. I don’t take any of my success for granted, if I couldn’t continue to perform or play zydeco anymore, I find peace in being blessed and knowing the impact I’ve made and the music I will leave behind.”
(Herman Fuselier is a music writer and broadcaster living in Opelousas, La. His Zydeco Stomp radio show airs from noon to 3 p.m. Central time Saturdays on KRVS 88.7 FM and www.krvs.org.)
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