Hometown Patriot: Feb. 27, 2013 - Kevin Fontenot

OBERLIN, LA (KPLC) - An Allen Parish native is writing a biography of Louisiana musician and governor Jimmie Davis.  Kevin Fontenot, this week's Hometown Patriot, will show how Davis successfully merged his two careers and won over voters' hears. Known for his popular "You Are My Sunshine," Davis was also at the center of Louisiana politics in the 20th century. It's because of Davis' position in state history that the Oberlin native decided to write the biography on Davis.

"I think people forget how big a music star he was," said Fontenot.

Hank Williams Sr., Patsy Cline and Elvis all opened for him. That's how big a star he was in the forties and fifties."

Jimmy Davis waged two successful campaigns for Louisiana governor. Many historians say what made Davis so popular was that he carefully merged both politics and music.

"He recorded some songs that, by the standards of the day, were off color or dirty. Like red nightgown blues, Tomcat pussy blues, Bed bug blues. His opponents actually used those records against him. They put up posters saying "for men only." They urged women not to read them. Of course they put them out in public," Fontenot said.

Fontenot said Davis' two terms presided over Louisiana's economic boom after the war ... and much of Louisiana's desegregation era in the 60s.

"Here's a man whose politics goes from the late 1920s to early 1970s. He connects Huey Long to Edwin Edwards. His last campaign for governor was 1972, when Edwards wins. So, his is a perfect career politically for understanding a vitally important period. He's there the whole time," Fontenot said.

Jimmy Davis lived 101 years. He died in 2000.

No release date on Fontenot's book has been announced. Fontenot holds degrees in history from Louisiana College and Tulane University. He is co-editor of Accordions, Fiddles, Two Step and Swing:  A Cajun Music Reader."

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