Zydeco music

Today is International Jazz Day, and while sending a friend recommendations for her listening pleasure, I found my Z – Zydeco music! It’s the instantly recognisable sound of New Orleans, my home while I was studying architecture. It’s impossible to live in New Orleans and not be forever changed by the music, food & art. 

What is Zydeco music?

Zydeco is the music of Southwest Louisiana’s Black Creoles, a mixture of African, Afro-Caribbean, Native American and European descent. Sung traditionally in Creole French, English is becoming more popular these days. As of 2007, it even has its own category at the Grammys!

Listen to The Louisiana Two Step (New Orleans 1984)

Where does the word Zydeco come from?

One theory is it comes from a contraction of the phrase Les haricots ne sont pas salés, which sounds like “lehz-dee-co nuh sohn pah salay” in the Louisianan French Creole dialect, and means “The snap beans ain’t salty”. Seriously. Another theory is that in the languages of West African slaves, the phonemes za, re and go were frequently associated with dancing and playing music. A little more believable, perhaps?

When did Zydeco music become popular? Is there a ‘parent’ of Zydeco?

Clifton Chenier is widely regarded as the King of Zydeco. He created music in the 1950s which was bluesy, syncopated and very different to the sound of Cajun music. He blazed a trail and made it clear that Zydeco was unique, using piano accordions & modified washboard vests (frottoirs). He also wore a cape & crown during most of his performances! Zydeco music is continuously evolving, showing influences from R&B and even hip-hop, in this century.

WHERE CAN I HEAR MORE ZYDECO MUSIC?

6 thoughts on “Zydeco music

  1. Jennifer says:

    The last 26 days have been amazingly thoughtful and educative for many of us (I’m sure many will agree on this!) I mean, even with the letter “Z” ??? You’ve outdone yourself. Once again. It seems, you just get better and better at your blogs!
    Thank you for so much of information, every day.
    Truly, truly helpful. And, we are all going to spend great days, re-reading your blogs, and working off them! Recipes, too!
    Great going!!!

    Like

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