I’ll always have a special place in my heart for L’Angelus. You remember L’Angelus, the Rees siblings who grew up in Lafayette and have family and throngs of fans throughout the area.
Paige, Katie, Steven and Johnny Rees, who are now in their 20s, are as talented as they are good looking. Their mix of Cajun, zydeco, Motown, fiddle tunes and other energetic sounds have won them fans from Miami to Los Angeles. The musicianship and vocal harmonies on their “Sacred Hymns” and “O Night Divine” CDs are second to none.
The Rees family now lives in Nashville, but comes home every New Year’s Day for a big gumbo and dance. They kept the tradition going with a big gathering Jan. 2 at the St. Peter’s Church Hall in Carencro.
L’Angelus won me over back around 2005, when the William Morris Agency came a calling. This is the same talent agency that made megastars out of Mel Gibson, Julia Roberts and other major entertainers.
The agency was ready to make L’Angelus the next Rascal Flatts — if they would just be willing for a makeover and drop the Cajun thing. The Rees family, who are devout Catholics, said thanks, but no thanks. They were staying true to their faith, family and culture.
Their integrity is now paying off as L’Angelus is touring with Michael W. Smith. Not familiar with Smith? He’s only sold 13 million albums and recorded 29 No. 1 hits, 14 gold albums and five platinum albums as one of the world’s top Contemporary Christian artists. He’s even been one of People magazine’s “Most Beautiful People.”
In 2011, L’Angelus opened for Smith in symphony halls stretching from St. Louis to Los Angeles. As always, they left audiences and reviewers awestruck.
One particular review, titled “L’Angelus band — the next big thing?” is making the rounds to Christian music web sites and radio stations across the country. Author Jeffrey Totey of Examiner.com caught one of L’Angelus’ Christmas concerts with Smith and used such words as “pleasant surprise” and “brilliant” to describe this “little known Louisiana quartet.”
Totey wrote, “The four are incredibly fun to watch play. Katie has a smile that won’t quit. She tends to step back a bit from Paige, who tends to whip her hair in all directions. Stephen makes it clear that he doesn’t play a violin — he plays the fiddle. And Johnny, the quiet one, hides behind his drums set, but plays like a mad man. In addition to the instrumentation, they harmonize their voices beautifully. They play “Ca C’est Bon,” one of their most popular hits, with delight as if they are playing it for the very first time and they alternate between English and French seamlessly.”
In July, L’Angelus rejoins Smith for the 2012 Cruise of Canada trip. Worldwide recognition is nothing new for L’Angelus. In 2006, Billboard magazine selected the band as one of six finalists in the Independent Music World Series. Last summer, they shared the stage with the Pope at the World Youth Conference in Spain.
Congratulations and continued success to L’Angelus. Thanks again for proving that good things do indeed happen for those who stick with faith, family and culture.
Herman Fuselier is a writer and broadcaster from Opelousas. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.