Though fascinated by music of all kinds, Michael Doucet is defined by his deep connection with, and dedication to, the music of the sacred French-Cajun culture. A Folk Arts Apprenticeship from the National Endowment of the Arts spurred Doucet to seek out every surviving Cajun musician and learn from them in person; he studied genre fathers Dewey Balfa, Dennis McGee, Sady Courville, Luderin Darbone, Varise Connor, Canaray Fontenot and many others, even inspiring some to return to publicly performing. In 2005 the National Endowment of the Arts again recognized Doucet’s integral involvement with the Cajun world, awarding him the esteemed National Heritage Fellowship as well as the United States Artists Fellowship in 2007.
Doucet has gained acclaim by developing his own flavor of Cajun music and he and his band represent many ‘firsts’ for the genre. Early on they focused on the lead and twin fiddle styles of the originals of Acadian folk music over the more popular 1920s adoption of the German diatonic accordion. They performed with the communal integrity characteristic of early Cajun music, choosing to perform unplugged like a group of friends playing together in a Louisiana living room, rather than plugging in. They broke ground as the first band to feature an acoustic guitar as the lead instrument, replacing the lead accordion or steel guitar. They were the first to include the frottoir, the rub board borrowed from Cajun music’s Zydeco cousin, and they were the first to feature a female vocalist. All of these innovations were fueled by Doucet’s determination to rejuvenate Cajun and zydeco music, breathing into it a new relevance.