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Sunday, June 16, 2019

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Cajun musician was ‘an icon’ who sang of local culture

Cajun musician was ‘an icon’ who sang of local culture

For over 50 years, Cajun musician Ervin “Vin” Bruce shared his music with the world, telling multiple stories through the lyrics in his songs.

The native and longtime resident of Cut Off was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia three months ago, a slowly progressing and uncommon type of cancer that begins in the bone marrow. He died Friday night at the age of 86.

“Some days he was perked up, some days he was down. At the end he lost the battle,” said his son, Dwayne Bruce.

Vin Bruce was one of the first Cajuns to play at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee. Among his many achievements, he was indicted into the Nashville Music Hall of Fame, the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame and the West Band Musicians Hall of Fame.

“Vin Bruce was an icon in the area, as he wrote many songs about our culture. He thrived to pass along our Cajun heritage through his music and was an ambassador for all the people here in south Louisiana,” Lafourche Parish President Jimmy Cantrelle said.

He enjoyed music, loved his family and delighted himself when spending time with his grandchildren.

When he learned one of his grandsons, Benjamin Bruce, had gotten the music gene, he enjoyed teaching him his songs.

Roland Cheramie, a member of the Cajun Music Preservation Society, described Vin Bruce as the humblest man he knew.

“He didn’t want people to praise him for his music. He wanted them to see him as the person he was,” Cheramie said.

A carpenter in his early years, Vin Bruce was a shy country boy who, coming from a musical family, those who knew him said. He developed a love for Cajun music that drove him to learn how to play guitar on his own at the age of 10.

In 2017, Vin Bruce was chosen as the Lafourche Parish Citizen of the Year. The Lafourche Parish Council also honored his accomplishments by declaring April 25, the day of his birthday, to be Vin Bruce Day every year.

Former Lafourche Parish Assessor Leroy Martin said Vin Bruce was always there when someone asked him to sing at birthday parties and celebrations.

“I knew him all my life, I lost my best friend,” Martin said. “He would always be there for the people in the community. The Cajun nation lost its greatest member. He will truly be missed.”

Vin Bruce’s music was special in its own way. All the songs he wrote told stories that were close to his community. He wrote about love stories of the people he was around and stories that he experienced himself.

“When you write music like he did, you touch people’s lives,” Cheramie said. “His music made people laugh, cry, and helped people meet for the first time and then be together for life.”

Dwayne Bruce said his father was always friendly everywhere he went, and loved helping through charities and giving back to his community.

“He was a legend and an inspiration to people,” Dwayne Bruce said. “He will always be remembered and he will be deeply missed.”

Visitation will be held from 9 a.m. until service time on Wednesday at Our Lady of Prompt Succor Catholic Church in Golden Meadow. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday at the church with burial at Cheramie Cemetery in Galliano.


-- Daily Comet Staff Writer Andrea Mujica can be reached at 857-1148 or Follow her on twitter @CationM.