Lagniappe, a Louisiana-French term for "a little something extra," is the perfect name for this band of friends, who, even after 18 years of playing together, can't make it through an interview question without laughing and teasing each other.
The band was born in the office of Our House, a shelter that equips people to recover from homelessness, where David Hoffpauir was on the board of directors. Genine LaTrice Perez was an advocate for Communities of Alcohol- and Drug-Free Youth and was working with Hoffpauir.
One day, when Perez was singing in the office, Hoffpauir poked his head out from around the corner and asked if she wanted to start a band. Without hesitation, Perez said yes. From there, Hoffpauir took a spot behind a drum set and Perez took center stage as the lead vocalist.
"Genine is the little something extra in our band. Actually, Genine is a whole lot of extra," Hoffpauir says. "Genine could sing the dictionary and people would listen."
"And don't you forget it," Perez pipes in.
Their style of music is a mix of R&B, jazz, gospel and soul with Memphis and Louisiana influence. They like to call it "a gumbo of music."
The band consists of Genine LaTrice Perez as lead vocalist, Dave Hoffpauir as the drummer, Ben Harris as the guitarist, Chris Michaels on bass and Austin Farnam on the saxophone.
Even as they began to pick up steam and perform all over the country, Lagniappe never left its roots in nonprofit behind. Every year, they performed at the Dinner on the Grounds event at Our House to encourage community giving. They've also continued to serve in their nonprofit positions. Hoffpauir continues to supervise interns and volunteer work for Our House, and Perez continues to advocate for children's programming and care.
"We look forward to seeing the children who have grown up with Lagniappe over the years," Perez says. "We love watching as they dance along with our music. Last year, we did a virtual program because of COVID, and someone sent me a video of their children dancing along to the music on the TV screen, talking to me and dancing with me, just like they would do when we are in person. It just warmed my heart. Moments like that make that connection and that relationship so much richer."
The band is excited to return for Our House's adapted program Concert on the Grounds to help raise money to reinvigorate the children's programs, which lost a lot of funding during the pandemic.
"This event is particularly important to raise money so that they can continue to serve kids," Hoffpauir says. "It's a big deal."
Concert on the Grounds, featuring Lagniappe, will take place from 7:30-9:30 p.m. on May 7, at Heifer Village. Snacks and drinks will be provided and additional donations to Our House are encouraged.
"I couldn't be happier about my involvement in this agency," Hoffpauir says. "I am just so thrilled to watch it come into its own. When I started doing volunteer work over there, there were two buildings on their campus and now they own that whole corner over there. They've built these multimillion dollar facilities for the kids and for education and for families. They're just a really fantastic agency."
Perez, Hoffpauir and their bandmate Ben Harris continue to stick together as a family, taking care of each other even across great distances and through tragic hardships.
Their band member Ivan Yarborough, who played the bass with the band, passed away around this time last year. Their saxophonist, Gerald Johnson, also passed away in the past few years.
"We've been steadily reeling in the loss and we're hoping that we're done with that for a while," Hoffpauir says. "We've got a couple of new guys coming in and they're great too. This whole Lagniappe thing is about the music and the fun. It's not a job for sure. We have jobs. We're having a good time. I think it shows. I think the chemistry is tangible."