Jo-El Sonnier

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Jo-El Sonnier
Background information
Birth name Joel Sonnier
Born (1946-10-02) October 2, 1946 (age 73)
Origin Rayne, Louisiana, USA
Genres Country, Cajun
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, accordionist
Instruments Vocals, Cajun accordion, Guitar, Harmonica
Years active 1967–present
Labels Goldband, Mercury, Rounder, RCA, Capitol, Liberty
Associated acts Eddy Raven

Jo-El Sonnier (/ʒˌɛl sɒnˈj/; born October 2, 1946, in Rayne, Louisiana) is an American singer-songwriter and accordionist who performs country music and Cajun music. Originally signed to Mercury Nashville Records, Sonnier charted several minor singles on the Billboard country charts in the late 1970s. By the late 1980s, he had signed to RCA Records, breaking through with the Top Ten hits "No More One More Time" and a cover of Richard Thompson's "Tear Stained Letter". Although his chart success waned by the late 1980s, he has continued recording music. He has recorded more than thirty albums, primarily on independent labels.


Sonnier was born to French-speaking sharecroppers in Rayne, Louisiana.[1] At age three, he began to play his brother's accordion. By age six, Sonnier had performed on the radio; at age eleven, he made his first recordings.[2] He also released several independent singles and four albums as a teenager.[2] By the 1970s, he was signed to Mercury Nashville Records, but without much success in the country music field.

Sonnier temporarily abandoned his pursuit of a country music career in favor of recording Cajun music on the independent Rounder Records label.[1] Although his independent album did not produce much commercial success, it was nominated for a Grammy Award.[2] After being signed as Merle Haggard's opening act, Sonnier later decided to return to country music; he was signed to RCA Records in the 1980s, where his biggest successes came in the singles "No More One More Time" and a cover of British singer Richard Thompson's "Tear Stained Letter", songs which landed in the Top Ten on the country charts.[2]

In the 1990s, Sonnier moved to Capitol Records, but his solo career faltered soon afterwards. He continued to find success as a session musician, and briefly took up acting as well.[2] In the late 1990s, he returned to Rounder Records to record Cajun music once more, occasionally collaborating with Michael Doucet of BeauSoleil. Sonnier also saw his second Grammy nomination, for the 1997 album Cajun Pride; a third soon followed with 2001's Cajun Blood being nominated for Best Traditional Folk Album.[2]

In 2009, Sonnier was inducted into The Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.

Sonnier made a brief cameo appearance as a member of a dance band in the third episode of the first season of the HBO crime series True Detective, which is set in southern Louisiana.[3]

On February 8, 2015, Sonnier won a Grammy Award for Best Regional Roots Music Album.

"The Legacy"

December 10th, 2013 saw the release of "The Legacy" (Takau Records) and was the first traditional Cajun French album of his in over 13 years. 10 years of songwriting in the making, the 13 track album drew Jo-El his fifth Grammy nomination and won him his first, as the 2015 Regional Roots Music Album of the Year.



Year Album Chart Positions Label
US Country
1967 Hurricane Audry Goldband
1968 The Scene Today in Cajun Music
1969 The Cajun Valentino
1980 Cajun Life Rounder
1987 Come On Joe 17 RCA
1989 Right Next Door to Texas Goldband
The Cajun Troubadour
1990 Have a Little Faith 45 RCA
1991 Tears of Joy Capitol
1992 Hello Happiness Again Liberty
Complete Mercury Session Mercury
1994 Cajun Roots Rounder
1995 Cajun Kids Little Morganville
1996 Live in Canada Stony Plain
Cookin' Cajun (with Eddy Raven) K-Tel
1997 Cajun Young Blood Ace
Cajun Pride Rounder
1998 Here to Stay Intersound
Cajun Memories Green Hill
1999 Cajun Blood Musique de' Jo-El
2000 Cajun Tradition Green Hill
2001 The L.A. Sessions Musique de' Jo-El
2004 Yesterdays with Jo-El Sonnier Green Hill
Cajun Christmas
Cajun Hymns
Cajun Mardis Gras
2005 Back by Request Musique de' Jo-El
2013 The Legacy Takau Records
"—" denotes releases that did not chart


Year Single Peak chart
US Country CAN Country
1975 "I've Been Around Enough to Know" 78 Singles only
1976 "Always Late (With Your Kisses)" 99
"He's Still All Over You" 100
1987 "Come On Joe" 39 Come On Joe
1988 "No More One More Time" 7 2
"Tear-Stained Letter" 9 6
1989 "Rainin' in My Heart" 35 *
"(Blue, Blue, Blue) Blue, Blue" 47 50 Single only
1990 "If Your Heart Should Ever Roll This Way Again" 24 26 Have a Little Faith
"The Scene of the Crime" 65 46
1998 "Broken Hearted Side of New Orleans" Here to Stay
"—" denotes releases that did not chart
* denotes unknown peak positions

Guest singles

Year Single Artist Album
1998 "Catahoula" The Bellamy Brothers (with Eddy Raven) Over the Line

Music videos

Year Video Director
1988 "Tear-Stained Letter" S. A. Baron[4]
"Rainin' in My Heart"
1989 "(Blue, Blue, Blue) Blue, Blue" Jim May
"If Your Heart Should Ever Roll This Way Again"
1990 "The Scene of the Crime"
1996 "Fais Do Do" (with Eddy Raven) Bob Whitt
1997 "Sugar Bee" (with Eddy Raven)
1998 "Catahoula" (with The Bellamy Brothers and Eddy Raven) chris rogers


  1. 1.0 1.1
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Sonnier, Jo-El. Jo-El Sonnier Biography at AllMusic
  3. IMDB True Detective Full Credits
  4. "New Videoclips" (PDF). Billboard. July 9, 1988.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links