Well known for his expertise on the guitar and his multi-genre music, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown had a recording career that spanned more than 50 years. Born in Vinton, Louisiana, he and his family moved to Orange when he was an infant. Here, Brown was shaped by a mix of Texan and Cajun cultures. He learned from his musician father and became well known for his guitar and fiddle playing, as well as his deep singing voice; he also played the drums, violin, mandolin and harmonica. Brown's music reflected African-American folk traditions of the Southwest.
After returning from World War II, Brown settled in Houston as a professional musician. He recorded with Peacock Records, where he had his first hit, "Mary is Fine." In the 1960s, Brown's career slumped and he changed genres, recording country music. By the 1970s, Brown had gained a larger fanbase, touring in Europe, Africa and the U.S.S.R., and appearing on the popular programs, Hee Haw, and Austin City Limits. He also began a series of recordings in Bogalousa, Louisiana that displayed his ability to play music in a variety of genres, including Blues, Western Swing, Rhythm and Blues, Country and Cajun. In 1982, he won the Grammy Award for best traditional recording with a Bogalousa recording, "Alright Again." He received other honors for his work, including eight W.C. Handy Awards and induction into the Blues Hall of Fame.
In 2005, Brown evacuated to Orange from Slidell, Louisiana due to Hurricane Katrina. He died here two weeks later and was interred in Hollywood Cemetery. Today, Gatemouth Brown's work endures through his recordings and significant influence on generations of guitarists and other musicians.