Local music legend Vin Bruce, the “King of Cajun Singers”, has seen some proud moments in his life.
Mr. Vin, one of the first Cajuns to play at the Grand Ole Opry also holds boasting rights for several other milestones such a recording contract with Columbia Records, his friendship with the iconic Hank Williams, and induction into several Music Halls of fame, most notably The Nashville Music Hall of Fame.
There is even a Vin Bruce day in Lafourche Parish, which falls on his birthday, April 25th each year.
With all of these accomplishments, you would think nothing else could compare to these great occurrences, but alas, there is another pivotal moment in Mr. Vin's life … one that brings the grandest smile to his face and a sparkle in his eye. His nine-year-old grandson, Benjamin Bruce had a recent stage performance of his own in Eunice, Louisiana not too long ago.
In a statement issued by Ebdon Barrios, a music industry powerhouse in his own right and close friend to Mr. Vin, Barrios stayed right on point when he said, “Benjamin Bruce, the son of Dwayne and Dodie Bruce, is living proof that the apple does not fall far from the tree. Benjamin performed before a packed house at the Liberty Theatre in Eunice, LA for the annual tribute to Hank Williams. All the musicians and singers were professionals singing all Hank’s songs. When Benjamin took the stage with the Jambalaya Band with his guitar and sang Hank’s songs in English then switched to French, the audience went wild. Benjamin stole the show.”
It is clear Benjamin is following in his grandfather’s footsteps.
“I was nervous and even felt a little dizzy walking out there,” said Benjamin. You would never know he had butterflies in his stomach based on his stellar performance and the standing ovation he received!
We asked Mr. Vin what he thought of Benjamin’s Eunice performance and the subsequent standing ovation his grandson received and he said, “It brought tears to my eyes.”
You could see the overwhelming amount of grandfatherly love in his eyes and the special bond the two hold for each other as he placed his hand upon his heart.
After Benjamin’s performance and to the Bruce family’s surprise, a representative from the Hank Williams Museum in Montgomery, Alabama attended the show and watched Benjamin bring the house down. Before the end of the night, he received a personal invitation and a request to play at the upcoming tribute show in Hank Williams’ hometown!
Benjamin began playing guitar at two and a half years old. By the age of four, he took his first steps on to a local stage to perform, his Paw kneeling behind him to help him along.
Today, Bruce's extraordinary vocals and guitar playing reflect a music prodigy in the making. Articulate and musically inclined well beyond his years in all things old-school country, Benjamin's mom Dodie calls him an old soul.
Benjamin gets his inspiration from his Paw and puts him in the forefront of the great kings of music along with such names as Hank, Earnest Tubbs, Elvis, and George Straight. He can play songs from many of these greats and even has a Michael Jackson song in his repertoire.
“I like playing my Paw’s music the best,” said Bruce. Many of which he can play and sing in French as well as English.
He loves to practice every day, and he does so for at least two hours. Sometimes mom and dad have to pry the guitar away for homework time. When he is not playing, you can find Benjamin on the baseball field pitching his best. After he suffered an injury to his thumb a few weeks ago, Benjamin said, “The first thing I did when we got home from Urgent Care was pick up my guitar to make sure I could still play.”
Luckily, the injury did not hamper his ability to pick and strum his instrument.
We asked Benjamin what else he loved to do when he is not playing his guitar, "I love riding horses, and I go to rodeos to ride." This bayou boy even has two very impressive belt buckles from placing in barrel racing.
When asked what he wants to be when he grows up he said a musician and the owner of a horse and cattle ranch. With Benjamin’s drive and impressive panache, it is likely he will achieve all of this and more over his lifetime.
“He doesn’t ask to go to Disneyland. Instead, he wants to go to Nashville or the Hank Williams Museum in Montgomery, Alabama. A wish that will be coming true sooner than anticipated since he will be playing there in September,” said Dodie.
If you would like the opportunity to see this legend in the making, you have a chance every Sunday right here on the Bayou. Benjamin performs along with other musicians on Sunday at the Rocking Gator in Larose from 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Posted on Tue, April 3, 2018
by Holly McKeon Contributing Writer