Broussard rocks the blues at Beachland

Jason LeRoy

Deep-voiced Marc Broussard, who plays the Beachland Ballroom on Wednesday, has more soul in his pageboy hat than Joss Stone has in her entire 50-pound body.

Credit: Jason LeRoy

For as long as there has been rock music, there has been debate over which genres of music belong to which racial group.

Once a style of music seems to have been sufficiently “claimed” by such a group, it becomes extremely difficult for a musician from another race to cross over without running a gauntlet of criticism and naysaying. White rappers, even post-Eminem, are still haunted by the legacy of Vanilla Ice. And black country singers — well, if one were to finally come along, he/she would probably get compared to Hootie.

However, sometimes a musician will appear who brings such authenticity and talent that race ceases to be an issue. One such musician is self-proclaimed “white boy singing soul music” Marc Broussard, who will be performing at the Beachland Ballroom on Wednesday.

Broussard, 23, is presently coasting on a wave of positive publicity following the release of his full-length debut album, Carencro, on Island Records last year. Named after his Louisiana hometown, Carencro is a vibrant and rollicking fusion of blues, soul, rock and pop.

It runs the gamut from sexy full-blast blues (“Home,” which was featured prominently in promo spots for the TV show “Medium”) to radio-ready pop (“Where You Are,” in heavy rotation on VH1 and iTunes) and everything in between. Broussard collaborated with a bevy of established songwriters, including Crossroads host Radney Foster, Martin Sexton, Jay Joyce (Shelby Lynne) and Angelo (Patty Griffin).

Broussard said he was introduced to his co-writers by the label or by friends.

“Aww, man, it was so great working with them,” he said. “They’re all just so unbelievably talented. And it all just serves to heighten my game anyway, so it makes it better for me in the long run.”

However, Broussard is quick to point out his strong involvement in the songwriting process on his album.

“I am part of every lyric of every song on the album,” he said. “More than anything, I look for honesty in lyrics. Just honesty, and to make sure that it comes from deep within.”

In conversation, Broussard comes off more like a super-enthusiastic SoCal frat boy with an unusually deep voice than the soulful romantic of Carencro. But he is only 23, after all. When reading his quotes, perhaps picture them being read by the character of Cody from “Step by Step.”

But while his speaking voice may tempt this particular journalist toward mockery, his singing voice is enough to silence any and all pithy journalistic dissent. Like fellow white soul singer Joss Stone, Broussard emits a sound that bears no resemblance whatsoever to his petite pretty-boy frame.

Absolutely electrifying, bursting with sex and life, Broussard’s singing voice is a fiery roar of a sound and one of the primary draws to his riveting live shows. Broussard said he is very excited to be on tour, having just completed a tour of the West Coast and now taking on the East Coast. He said he has always been a natural on stage.

“It’s a really good feeling, man,” he said. “I’ve never really had any stage fright or anything like that. I’ve always been ready to just hit the stage at any given moment.”

Some of the stages Broussard has been hitting lately include those of Jimmy Kimmel and Conan O’Brien. Broussard said performing on talk shows is always a good time.

“Aww, it’s fun, man, especially Kimmel’s show,” he said. “They have an open bar backstage and everything. It’s really cool.”

Ultimately, Broussard had a rebuttal that is equal parts Dirk Diggler and Jay-Z to any criticism people might have for him for being a pretty white boy singing soul music.

“There are haters out there and everything, but I just brush my shoulders off, bro, you know?” he said. “I get a lot of respect from the black community. I never really tried to be someone that I wasn’t, man. I’m not out there trying to be a brutha or nothing. This is me, and this is who I am, and this is the music I like to sing.”

Contact Pop Arts reporter Jason C. LeRoy at [email protected].