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Grammy Winners Terrance Simien & The Zydeco Experience open Festival with a ball & street dance

Terrance Simien
(Fayetteville, NC) July 30, 2018 —New Orleans comes to downtown Fayetteville on the evening of 4thFriday, Sept. 28, as Grammy winners Terrance Simien & The Zydeco Experience open the 40thAnnual International Folk Festival with Compare Foods. Simien and his band will perform in the Arts Council’s Bon Temps Ball, a street dance in the middle of downtown, from 7 to 9 p.m. On Saturday, Sept. 29, the band also will crank out its high-energy sound at 1:15 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. at Festival Park, as part of an extensive entertainment lineup throughout the weekend.

“We are honored and thrilled to have a group as acclaimed as Terrance Simien & The Zydeco Experience at this year’s International Folk Festival,” says Deborah Martin Mintz, Executive Director of the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County. “Their talent and spirit is sure to open the festival on a very high and memorable note.”

Bon Temps translates to “good times” in French, so revelers can expect brightly colored clothing and Mardi Gras beads to go along with the festive mood on opening night of the three-day festival which is expected to attract more than 100,000 people.

Simien is a vocalist, songwriter and self-taught accordion player. He and his band have toured internationally, presenting more than 7,000 live performances in 40-plus countries, and released dozens of solo recordings and collaborations.  Simien has shared the studio or stage with Paul Simon, Dr. John, The Meters, Marcia Ball, Dave Matthews, Stevie Wonder, Robert Palmer and the roots rockers Los Lobos.

Simien and his band won the Grammy Award for Best Zydeco or Cajun Music Album for 2008. In 2013, Simien’s independently released ninth recording, “Dockside Sessions” captured a Grammy Award. The recording features four traditional Zydeco songs (sung in French), a contemporary French tune, three thoughtfully curated Bob Dylan covers, and a song each originally by the Grateful Dead and Toots & the Maytals. “With the release of ‘Dockside Sessions’, Simien has again expanded the often misunderstood and underestimated roots music genre,” according to the performer’s website.

Rolling Stone calls Simien a “Zydeco Master.” The Los Angeles Times describes Terrance Simien & The Zydeco Experience as “more than just a one-dimensional party band whose soulful ballads could hold their own against Aaron Neville and Sam Cooke.”

Simien has appeared on screen and contributed to the soundtracks of several movies, television films and commercials. He appears on the soundtrack of the Disney film, The Princess and the Frog, set in the French Quarter of New Orleans, featuring authentic Louisiana music scored by Randy Newman. He also has contributed to the soundtracks of movies such as The Big Easy, Exit To Eden and A Murder Of Crows.

Simien and his business partner/wife, Cynthia, are active in Creole music education and advocacy. They created the “Creole for Kidz & The History of Zydeco” performing arts program, which provides informational performances to K-12 students, teachers and parents. Since it was created in 2001, Creole for Kidz has reached nearly 500,000 students, parents and teachers in more than 20 states, Mali, Dominican Republic, Brazil, Paraguay, Canada and Australia. The Simiens also created MusicMatters, Inc., a nonprofit group for education and advocacy.

Fayetteville’s 40th Annual International Folk Festival will include free multicultural entertainment throughout the weekend, more than 50 arts and crafts vendors, and an array of foods for purchase in The International Café. At 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, a Parade of Nations on Hay Street traditionally features local people representing more than 30 countries or cultures. 

For more information about the International Folk Festival,visit

MEDIA ATTENTION: Performers and cultural participants are available for interviews. Contact us for arrangements. 

The International Folk Festival is offered free to the public, thanks to the support of Sponsors. For the third consecutive year, the Arts Council is honored to announce that Compare Foods is the Vanguard Partner for the festival. Leading Sponsors are the North Carolina Education Lottery, Lumbee River EMC, and The Fayetteville Observer. Supporting Sponsors are Cape Fear Eye Associates and CarolinasDentist. Friend Sponsors include BB&T, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, Mike Ransom/Farm Bureau Insurance, and WRAL-TV. New to the festival are rickshaws for transporting festival attendees; sponsor for the six rickshaws is Coldwell Banker Advantage. Also new to the festival are Saturday night fireworks sponsored by Hale Artificier. The Arts Council also is pleased to announce Red Lion Inn & Suites as the Preferred Hotel Partner for the International Folk Festival. In-kind beverage Sponsors are Coca-Cola and R.A. Jeffreys. The Arts Council also receives annual support from Cumberland County, the City of Fayetteville, and the N.C. Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural & Cultural Resources.


The Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County was founded in 1973. As a link between artists, arts and cultural organizations and the community, the nonprofit agency administers programs in partnership with a variety of local agencies to stimulate community development through the arts. The Arts Council supports individual creativity, cultural preservation, economic development and lifelong learning through the arts. 

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The Arts Council’s grants, programs and services are funded in part by contributions from businesses and individuals, and through grants from the City of Fayetteville, Cumberland County and the N.C. Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural & Cultural Resources.