Born and raised in New York, Henry Hample came from a close-knit German Jewish family with offbeat musical leanings. His dad performed with symphony orchestras as a musical cartoonist, his grandmother played mandolin and violin, and his relatives had a long tradition of writing song parodies to sing at family reunions. Henry started classical piano and cello lessons at age 7, then switched to guitar and harmonica at age 9 after stating in his 3rd grade memory book, "I plan to be a folk singer when I grow up." On a whim, his dad gave him a fiddle for his 16th birthday, and Henry taught himself to play, jamming endlessly with friends and developing his own hard-edged style somewhere between bluegrass and rock.
Following episodes as a hippie in Vermont and a punk rocker in California, Henry studied English literature at NYU, then received a master's degree in ethnomusicology from Brown University. He played with several bands in New York including Washboard Jungle, which the New York Daily News called "a wonderful four-member band who'll give you and the kids a fun-filled concert featuring rock 'n' roll and down-home folk music."
In 2001, he was thrown out of a Bourbon Street bar for attempting to sit in with a Cajun band, so he resolved to learn Cajun fiddle. He moved to Louisiana in 2007, and now performs regularly with Don Fontentot & Friends of Louisiana, Jamie Berzas & Cajun Tradition (Grammy nominated), and other bands. He has recorded CDs with Ray Landry, Harry Trahan, Lisa Trahan, Wallace Trahan, and Aaron Chesson. In 2008, he founded the Louisiana Folk Roots Kids Camp, which continues annually at Vermilionville. In 2014, he won the Cajun French Music Association's Excellence Award. He is a full-time music teacher at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in Grand Coteau, and has also taught music at LSUE and South Louisiana Community College.
Back to Henry Hample's Downhome Page