Nathan Williams (born March 24, 1963) is an American Zydeco accordionist and singer.
Williams grew up in a Creole-speaking home in St. Martinville, Louisiana, the youngest of seven children. Times were hard for the Williams family and Williams lost his father when he was only seven years old. He developed his musical sensibility in his hometown, a place rich in folk tradition, following in the footsteps of his uncle, the Cajun guitarist Harry Hypolite. Nathan eagerly sought out the music of Zydeco originators such as Clifton Chenier. When he was too young to attend a Chenier dance at a St. Martinville club, he hovered by the window-sized fan at the back of the building to hear his idol, only to have the bill of his baseball cap clipped off by the fan when he leaned too close.
Williams moved to Lafayette, Louisiana to live with his older brother Sid and his wife. He worked in Sid’s grocery store. Later, while recovering from a serious illness, Nathan decided to dedicate himself to learning the accordion. He began practicing in the bathroom because he did not want anyone to hear him play. His main mentor was Buckwheat Zydeco, although his biggest influence was Clifton Chenier.
Just five years after graduating from high school, Williams was recording 45s on his brother’s El Sid independent record label. He set up a club in Lafayette, which became a center of fashion.
In 1988 Williams performed for the first time at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, after which he got his lucky break. Buckwheat Zydeco had left Rounder Records for Island Records, leaving Rounder in need of an accordionist to fill a spot on a project they had lined up. Buckwheat Zydeco suggested Williams for the position, and he auditioned and got the recording contract. Later he formed his band, Nathan Williams and the Zydeco Cha Chas, with which he plays to this day.