Whose song was the first song broadcast back to the Earth from the Moon? Why that would be Doug Kershaw’s song.
But that’s only a tiny part of this “Ragin’ Cajun’s” story. Participants at the 2017 Fiddle Tunes Workshop will get the full story in July, as Doug has agreed to make the trip from Louisiana to Port Townsend for this year’s gathering.
Doug Kershaw was born in Cameron Parish, Louisiana, in 1936, surrounded by Cajun fiddle and accordion music. He was raised in a home where Cajun French was spoken and didn’t learn English until he was eight. He started fiddling at age five, and eventually taught himself to play 28 instruments.
He played in a duo with his brother Rusty, quickly building a solid reputation for their high-energy performances of Cajun two-steps and country ballads. In the mid 50s they had several national hit records, and shortly afterward were invited to become cast members of the Louisiana Hayride, a popular radio show broadcast from Shreveport, LA. The following year they became members of the Grand Ole Opry.
At the peak of their early career, in 1958, Doug and Rusty decided to simultaneously enlist in the United States Army. After fulfilling their military obligation, the two brothers recorded Louisiana Man, an autobiographical song that Doug had written while in the Army. The song not only sold millions of copies but over the years has come to be considered a standard of modern Cajun music. The song was eventually covered by more than 800 artists, and became the first song broadcast back to Earth from the Moon by the Apollo 12 astronauts.