LEWISTON – Norman DeCoteau of South Paris was presented the Pioneer Award from the Down East Country Music Association on Oct. 5 at the Knights of Columbus Hall.

DeCoteau said, when presented the highest award of the association, “I have been in the music business for over 50 years. I love what I do, and I really do not deserve this award, but I thank you for it.”

DeCoteau was born in Norway on May 24, 1938. In spite of being blind from about age 7, he taught himself to play guitar, keyboard, bass, lead guitar and accordion. He has memorized more than 600 songs.

Early in his career he had the first live music show on radio station WKTQ, which is now radio station WOXO. The show was on the air for five years. During that time he had many guests – one well known was Ira Allen.

DeCoteau was inducted into the Maine Country Music Hall of Fame in 1990. That same year he won the association’s Entertainer of the Year award. He represented Down East Country Music in the Country Music Associations of America competition in San Demas, Calif. He won a Golden Eagle Award for entertainer of the year, being the first Down East Country Music male entertainer to do so.

DeCoteau has worked with such well know musicians as Hal Lone Pine, Dick Curless, Betty Cody, Gene Hooper, Sleepy Willis, Jeannie Carter Johnson, Slim Andrews, Russ Adams, Ginger Mae Dyer, Little Joey, Ira Allen and Elmer Larson.

DeCoteau has taught several in the Oxford Hills area how to play the guitar. He also has made records, among them “White Lightning” and “Pass Me By.”

Until his stroke in January 2000, he was one of the Fryeburg Boys, along with Oliver Nicholas, for more than 30 years. Due to health he has no longer been able to participate at the Fryeburg Fair, but continues to be involved in music for weddings, dances and other events.

He is a member of the Country Ladds and he and his wife for almost 33 years, Betty, are known as Just the Two of Us, providing entertainment at activities throughout the state.

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