By Devon Leger.
Sad news that acclaimed Cajun artist Courtney Granger has passed away at 39 years old this past Saturday, September 18 of complications from a lifelong battle with diabetes.
Fiddler, singer, and songwriter Courtney Granger, was heir to the Balfa family tradition of Cajun music.
He grew up around the music and idolized his great-uncle Dewey Balfa, who led the 1960s Cajun music revival following his breakout performance at the 1964 Newport Folk Festival. At the tender age of 16, Granger cut his first album with Rounder Records, produced by Dirk Powell. Un Bal Chez Balfa announced a powerfully talented fiddler and a Cajun singer able to nail the high lonesome vocals of Cajun dancehall songs with an eerie ability.
He later joined legacy band Balfa Toujours on bass, before joining The Pine Leaf Boys in 2008, replacing Creole fiddler Cedric Watson. He went on to tour the world with The Pine Leaf Boys, playing fiddle and singing with them for the next 13 years, even as his health began to fade from a lifelong battle with diabetes. He garnered multiple GRAMMY nominations with them and represented his country in US State Department tours of the Middle East and Europe.
In 2016, Granger released only his second solo album, Beneath Still Waters, surprising his Cajun folk music fans with a brilliant album of country covers of his idols George Jones, Waylon Jennings, Keith Whitely, and more. Though Granger started playing Cajun music professionally at a young age, his first love was old country music played on the jukeboxes of the bars before his family members set up for the evening dance. Speaking at Pickathon in 2017, Granger reminisced, “I remember crying to George Jones at 8 years old, and didn’t know what I was crying for.” Rolling Stone Magazine called him the “Best George Jones Disciple” at AmericanaFest 2016, and said his album was “an old-timey playlist for a barroom-medicated heartbreak.”
There’s a fundraiser on now for Granger’s funeral costs.