Newman brought back the Cajun country sound of his youth.
Country music lost one of its best and brightest this weekend with the death of Jimmy C. Newman, a veteran performer of Grand Ole Opry. Jimmy died on Saturday, June 21, at the age of 86, according to THR.
Jimmy C. Newman [left centre] performing in Nashville [Photo: Getty Images, Credit: Terry Wyatt]
Jimmy was born Jimmy Ives Newman in 1926. The C., which he added as his middle initial at the beginning of his career, stands for Cajun, the music he listened to in his early years and would go on to emulate throughout his career.
The Grand Ole Opry, a weekly country stage concert in Nashville, welcomed Newman as a member back in 1956, after his breakout hit from two years prior, Cry, Baby, Cry. He had signed a contract with Dot Records a year before that. His initial success led to more appearances in the Billboard top 10, including Daydreamin’ and Seasons Of My Heart.
In 1957, with the support of Opry, Newman released the biggest hit of his career, A Fallen Star, which peaked at No. 2 and crossed over to No. 23 on the Hot 100.
Throughout his career, Newman switched labels several times and incorporated more Cajun music into his work, getting closer to the sound he had grown up with in Louisiana. In 1976, he earned a Gold Record in Canada for his recording of Lâche pas la patate (The Potato Song). His music also earned him a Grammy nomination in 1991 for his album Alligator Man.
Newman continued to play the Opry up until his death and celebrated his golden anniversary on the Grand Ole Opry stage in 2006. His final album, Jimmy C. Newman Sings Swamp Country, was released in 2012. He is survived by his wife of more than six decades, Mae.