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Doris Leon "D. L." Menard (born April 14, 1932) is one of the most important songwriters and performers in Cajun music. He has been called the "Cajun Hank Williams" because of the country-tinged sound of his voice and music.
Menard was born in Erath, Louisiana. The only child of Mr. Ophy Menard and Mrs. Helena Primeaux Menard. He was part of a Cajun farming family. He started to play guitar at 16 and started playing dances in Louisiana clubs at 17. He was greatly influenced by Hank Williams meeting him once in 1951 at the Teche Club shortly before Hank's death. Since then he has performed in more than 30 countries and served as a good-will ambassador for Cajun culture. He has also recorded with non-Cajun artists, including Bryan Ferry. He and his wife Louella - now deceased - have seven children, seventeen grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. He still lives in Erath and continues to play music. He has maintained a separate career as a craftsman, noted for his handmade ash-wood chairs he makes at his one-man factory in Erath.
Menard is known for his "tinny" voice and popular guitar strumming style. Anne Savoy generalizes Cajun guitar strumming to two styles: Old Time Style (Cléoma Falcon) and D. L. Menard Style. It uses bass runs on chord changes and incorporates up strokes along with down strokes. He modeled his guitar strumming style after David Bromberg whom he met in 1973.
Menard is best known for his song "La Porte En Arrière" ("The Back Door"), which Cajun folklorist Barry Jean Ancelet has called the most played and most recorded Cajun song, selling over 500,000 copies in 1962 alone. It has been covered by dozens of Cajun and zydeco bands and by other Francophone artists such as Kate and Anna McGarrigle. Menard has said he modeled it on Hank Williams' "Honky Tonk Blues." He composed it in under an hour, while working at a service station in Erath.
In 1993, his album Le Trio Cadien was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Traditional Folk Album category. In 1994, he was awarded the National Heritage Fellowship Award by the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2009, he was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame along with Jo-El Sonnier, Doug Kershaw, and Jimmy C. Newman. In 2010, his album "Happy Go Lucky" was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Zydeco Or Cajun Music Album category.