Growing up in St. Amant, Gaynell Bourgeois Moore never thought that her career as a self-taught artist and musician would enable her to travel the world and sing among the superstars of country music.
Moore is a modern, local renaissance woman, whose artistic interests have led to careers as a musician, singer, painter, and writer.
Since beginning her music career in 1969, Moore, has cut three CDs, written a memoir, produced numerous paintings, and become a member of the Hank Williams Museum in Montgomery, Alabama.
Moore will soon pack up and head to Montgomery, where on Sept. 17, she will perform, by the request of the museum, at Williams’ graveside in celebration of his birthday.
Moore began to pursue her vision of a music career after having already started to raise a family.
“I always wanted to play the guitar — my whole life. I never gave up on my dream,” Moore said. At first, she bought a book and taught herself chords until a friend offered to give her guitar lessons, Moore said.
In 1969, Moore was invited to play at the local VFW hall with Janson Babin’s band.
“When I first stepped in front of the mic, I got the fever, and when I heard the sound of applause, that did it,” Moore said. For that first performance, she sang “Once a Day” by Connie Smith and “Jambalaya” by Hank Williams.
Soon afterward, Moore’s music career took off. Moore has played alongside country music legends such as Ernest Tobbs, Dolly Parton, Porter Wagoner, Hank Williams Jr., Ray Price, Mel Tellis and Merle Haggard.
In 2013, Moore was invited by Beth Petty, the curator for the Hank Williams Museum, to sing at the New Years’ Day in celebration of Williams’ life.
“I adored him,” Moore said of Williams, who died at the age of 29 in 1953. “I was only 14 years old when Hank died on New Years’ Day in 1953. I still remember the pain I felt at his death.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I’d be performing in his home town of Montgomery and his museum,” Moore said.
Now, Moore continues to make trips to Montgomery, where she sings at various events hosted by the museum. For the upcoming birthday celebration, Moore plans to sing “When I Get to Glory,” which Williams performed, and “Hank’s Cadillac” by Ashley Monroe.
“I always wanted to sing and play guitar. I didn’t even know I wanted to paint until I was in my forties,” Moore said.
Moore is a member of the River Region Art Association and has sold her work both locally and abroad. Moore’s artwork also is sold at the Hank Williams Museum.
Moore paints memorabilia of the blue Cadillac in which Williams died.
“Now, I can’t imagine not painting,” Moore said.
Besides painting and performing, Moore has recorded three CDs: “Songs From Black Bayou To The Bluff” in 2005, “Songs From Black Bayou To Belle River” in 2007, and “I Saved the Best for Last,” 2010.
Moore has composed many of her own songs and written a book, “I Saved the Best for Last” in 2011. Moore is working on a second book about musicians from Louisiana, with an emphasis on those from Ascension Parish.
Moore’s work can be found at the River Region Depot Gallery, Houmas House Plantation and Gardens and Marchand’s Hardware.
For more information about the Hank Williams Museum, visit thehankwilliamsmuseum.net.