*When Bryson “Cupid” Bernard created the “Cupid Shuffle” in 2007, he didn’t realize the lasting impact it would have on a wide-ranging audience.
A timeless classic that appeals to every culture, the shuffle has shown the ability to unite the divided. During these tumultuous times, you can still find several videos of cops and civilians side by side, doing the popular line dance.
So, when 17,000 people lined up in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2007 to follow the directions of the dance from Bernard, setting the Guinness World Record for largest line dance, he knew he had created something special. This Louisiana Legend has sold 4 million records, while providing the world with a soundtrack that’s guaranteed to get you dancing.
This interview is part of the Louisiana Legends series, featuring talks with individuals from the Pelican State who have carved out a legacy for themselves.
Percy Crawford interviewed Bryson “Cupid” Bernard for Zenger.
Zenger: What part of Louisiana are you from?
Cupid: Lafayette, my man!
Zenger: What would you say Lafayette is most known for?
Cupid: To be honest, me, [MMA stars] Dustin Poirier and Daniel Cormier all went to the same high school. And I actually played ball with Daniel, but unfortunately Salmen eliminated us from the playoffs our senior year. But it’s all love. The high school that I went to is looked at as the Eastside High of Lafayette, but we got so many success stories coming out of Northside High School in Lafayette. We have other really cool stars, Mondo [Duplantis], a gold medalist pole vaulter in the Olympics this year. So many people that’s doing well. It’s a small town, but we have so many strong points in it.
Zenger: What do you feel has been your biggest contribution to Lafayette and Louisiana as a whole?
Cupid: To be honest, musically where I’m from, there really wasn’t any African American that had been successful. You had Da Entourage with the song “Bunny Hop.” They came out around 2001. They had some success. That’s actually some of my boys. But I think I was probably the first person to put Lafayette on the map from a hip hop and R&B perspective. Although to this day, don’t nobody know how to classify the “Cupid Shuffle.” It was so big that it literally put Lafayette on the map as something that took over the world and was genre-less.
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Zenger: That is a powerful track. During some of the most divided times this country has witnessed, whether it was cultural divisiveness, political divisiveness, or the divide between civilians and police officers, “Cupid Shuffle” would come on and we would watch civilians and cops dancing together. How did that make you feel?
Cupid: Over time I started to accept what it is. I’ve accepted the purpose of that song. Why it was the song, of all the songs that I had been recording the past seven years before I got signed, was that. It was because I was always trying to make music to please everybody at the same time. And that’s not easy to do. With “Shuffle,” it was like, watching people doing it, it’s an ode to my personality. I’m just a chill dude, man. People come up to me and they forget that I sold four million records. I’ve always carried myself like that. So, I think having that humbleness and familiarity combined with a good record.
Zenger: Give me that moment where you knew you had something special?
Cupid: The moment was when me and Steve Harvey got cool, and he asked me if I wanted to try to break the Guinness World Record for the largest line dance. We did it in 2007, in Cascade Park in Atlanta, Georgia. It was 17,000 people, and Steve was the host for the Ebony Black Family Reunion. When I got on that stage, I got how they couldn’t categorize [the song].
When I signed with Atlantic [Records], the best part was them not being able to tell what my song was; it didn’t have a face. You couldn’t call it hip hop, so it wasn’t a black-person song, you couldn’t call it pop, so it wasn’t a white-person song, you couldn’t call it Zydeco, so it wasn’t a Creole-person song. Because it had no face, it touched everybody. Trust and believe, I had no idea it was going to do that. Don’t ever think that was in the plan. I was just recording music, dog.
Zenger: You definitely come off as a “regular” guy.
Cupid: Regular is cool. It’s all good.
Zenger: OK, being that you are such a low-key guy, have you ever been somewhere, and they play “Cupid Shuffle,” and they don’t even know that you’re in the building?
Cupid: All the time, dog. We went on vacation to D.C., and we were at Six Flags, and they hit it and the ladies started dancing. Of course, April [Sams/Bernard] my wife started dancing, and she was like, “Oh look”’ and the lady… it took her a couple of seconds. She looked at me, she was like, “Wait a minute.” And then she realized it was me.
It happens all the time. I’ve been places where cover bands will start playing it, and I’m sitting down eating and I’m like, “Wow, this is crazy.” It’s cool though. It allows me to be able to raise my family and enjoy my friends without all the crazy stuff. I have been around cats who are really super famous in the media’s eyes, and that’s not a super-good life all the time.
Zenger: There are different variations of the song on YouTube. Some workout videos of it, remakes, but the official video has 68 million views. How humbling is that?
Cupid: It’s very humbling. I had no idea. You know what’s even funnier, every generation of kids, it becomes brand new. Every wave of kids at 2 or 3 years old, learn the “Shuffle.” It’s brand new to them and then it goes on and on and on. To be overseas and as soon as I start saying, “They got a brand-new dance…” people just start going berserk.
It’s really a “Wow” situation. It’s a beautiful reality. It’s a blessing. It’s the golden ticket. There is not a place in this world where I can’t go and grab the microphone and perform, and that is just a blessing to have. Some people have a bunch of records, they have a huge catalog, and then some people have something that’s timeless. So, for me, until the end of time, I’m etched in our black culture and American culture, really, and that’s a good feeling.
Zenger: Do you have any regrets?
Cupid: To be honest, no. There was a time when I was at Atlantic where the “Shuffle” had just got out there. Sometimes I wish I would’ve wished I worked a little harder in the studio to create more music at that peak time, because a lot of my other music gets overshadowed by the shuffle on a national scale. However, you gotta think, I was 27 years old, I had been working since I was 20 to get a record deal. So, when I got it, I enjoyed every bit of it. I made it.
At the end of the day, I made so many good moves. I took a small advance. Now I get 100 percent on all the sales of the song. I made some really good moves. When you’re a kid and they say, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s always, I want to make a lot of money, have a house and a car. I was able to do that through music. So, for me, I don’t have any regrets other than possibly creating a catalog while the label was behind me.
Zenger: What makes Louisiana special?
Cupid: Man… we don’t care about nothing (laughing). You got [Big] Freedia, you got [Lil] Boosie who really could care less what he say. You got me, Zydeco, jazz. So much stuff that we don’t really care what be going on in other states. One thing about Louisiana that I love the most, when we go to another state, we take over. No matter where I go, I get on that microphone and I’m Lafayette, Louisiana, it’s going to be about 50 people out there that’s going to scream. They might not be from Louisiana, but they got some kinfolk or something from there.
When I start dropping these songs, and they start doing these dances, some that don’t know them just look at them. And they will tell them, “Yeah, we’re from Louisiana, what you know about that? Fall back.” It’s a crazy representation. Since [Hurricane] Katrina, we have been out here teaching the world what we do. We don’t do what they do.
Zenger: How does it feel to be called a legend?
Cupid: It’s humbling. Sometimes I still think I’m 25 in my mind, so when I hear legends and OGs, it makes me feel kind of old, but it also makes me feel accomplished. I’ve done a lot independently. I pushed hard because my ultimate goal was to be able to do music for the rest of my life. It wasn’t a dollar amount, an album sale amount. I pushed hard and lost some friends because of it. To be recognized like that just lets me know that all the hard work, the blood, sweat and tears, the L’s I took all come back to be something successful.
Zenger: What are you up to these days?
Cupid: I’m good, man. Working on my new project. It’s going to be out Dec. 22, which is also my birthday. It’s called “Capricorn 2.” I dropped “Capricorn” about 4 years ago, so this will be part 2. I’m working on that album. I got a new song and line dance called “Flex” that’s killing TikTok right now. I can’t keep up with the videos. I’ve got another swing out song called “I Love Chocolate.”
Beyond that, just chillin’. Just got married, and just making sure my circle is locked in tight so that I can focus on doing music.
Edited by Matthew B. Hall and Judith Isacoff
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