Yvette Landry’s musical mix of old-school country, Cajun rhythms and clever lyrics is tough to define.
“People call it regional roots or American roots or Americana,” said Landry, 52. “Whatever you want to call it, it’s just fun. That’s what I call it.”
The Breaux Bridge-based singer-songwriter found her musical voice late in life, picking up the craft after starting a successful teaching career and starting a family.
Now, six years into her songwriting life, she has performed all over the country, sharing the stage with legends, and even earned a trip to the Grammy Awards ceremony last year.
“Wonderful things” keep happening to Landry, like the invitation to perform with legendary Texas songwriter Billy Joe Shaver on Friday at the Manship Theatre in Baton Rouge.
“I’ve had lots of gifts that the universe has provided,” Landry said.
Landry grew up in a musical family, playing piano from the age of 3 and joining the band in school. After high school, though, she quit music.
At 40, working as a high school science teacher, Landry picked up the bass guitar and began playing with bands around Breaux Bridge and Lafayette. She became excited about music again and learned guitar, fiddle and accordion.
Landry began writing songs when her father was diagnosed with brain cancer. She would play them for him, and, before he died in 2009, he told her to record them.
“No one wants to listen to me,” she told him. “I don’t know what I’m doing.”
Her father’s death was the catalyst to record her first album, “Should Have Known.” Landry called her musician friends and booked time in a local studio.
Over a weekend, they recorded 16 songs with no rehearsal. She happened to run into talented musician friends who helped out, even an acquaintance from “up north” who happened to be in town and agreed to play cello on the song “Talk.”
“It was kind of magical, that whole album,” Landry said.
Back then, music was a hobby. She assumed she would never record her songs again.
Over time, she became more dedicated to songwriting and performing. She quit teaching full time and began working with home-school classes during the day and became an American Sign Language instructor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
“I have the best of everything,” she said.
In 2013, Landry released “No Man’s Land,” further exploring her country-Cajun style and becoming more confident in her sultry voice. The album included favorites like the witty “I’d Love to Lay You Down,” featuring lyrics like, “I’d love to lay you down in a house with no windows/About 6 feet under the ground sounds good to me.”
Her 2014 album, “Me & T-Coe’s Country,” with steel guitarist Richard Comeaux is a slower affair, showcasing his picking skill and her voice on country standards like “Cold, Cold Heart” and “I Fall to Pieces.”
Last year, Landry’s bass guitar work with the band Bonsoir Catin’s “Light the Stars” earned her a trip to the Grammy Awards ceremony, where the album was nominated in the regional roots category.
It was an exciting experience, but her life went right back to normal after returning home.
“You’re taking out your own trash and cleaning your own floors,” she said. “Nothing really changed. You’re thankful that you went, and you come back and you just do what you do.”
Although she is constantly writing new music, Landry does not plan to return to the studio until next year. She saves the money she makes through musical performances or teaching at music camps to buy new equipment or make new albums.
Landry has not considered asking fans to fund new albums through Kickstarter or other online fundraising services. She wants to earn it.
“I think that if I’m going to do it, I need to work hard and save for it,” she said. “It makes it more important to me.”