Grammy Award-winning Cajun and country artist Jo-El Sonnier has passed away at the age of 77. The news comes following his performance in Llano, Texas, where he suffered a major heart attack.

Sonnier, a notable figure in the Cajun and country music scenes, had completed a show at the Llano Country Opry. According to Texas Country Music promoter Tracy Pitcox, Sonnier ended his performance with ‘Tear Stained Letter,’ receiving a standing ovation.

He agreed to perform ‘Jambalaya’ as an encore. “He performed energetically and then mentioned he needed to rest before signing autographs. Sadly, he suffered cardiac arrest and was air flighted to Austin, where he was pronounced deceased,” Pitcox shared.

Born in Rayne, Louisiana, to French-speaking sharecroppers, Sonnier's musical talent emerged early. He played his brother's accordion at three, was on the radio by six, and recorded his first songs at eleven. His career spanned several decades, beginning with independent singles and albums as a teenager. He later signed with Mercury Nashville Records in the 1970s, but found greater success in the 1980s with RCA Records, producing hits like "No More One More Time" and "Tear Stained Letter."

In the 1990s, Sonnier moved to Capitol Records, continuing to make music and briefly exploring acting. He returned to Cajun music in the late 1990s with Rounder Records, collaborating with artists like Michael Doucet of BeauSoleil. His album 'Cajun Pride' received a Grammy nomination, as did 'Cajun Blood.'

Sonnier's contributions to music were recognized with his induction into The Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2009. He also appeared in the HBO series True Detective and won a Grammy in 2015 for his album 'The Legacy.'

Tributes have poured in from friends and fans. One friend expressed shock and praised Sonnier and his wife Bobbye Weaver Sonnier as wonderful people, while another highlighted his lasting contributions to Cajun and country music. Fans and the music community mourn the loss of Jo-El Sonnier, remembering him as a legend whose impact will endure for generations.

Our thoughts are with family members and loved ones of Jo-El Sonnier in the wake of this shocking news. May he rest in peace.

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