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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Zydeco - African American Accordian Music

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post provides information about & showcases a few videos of Zydeco, an African American genre of social music that is still largely unfamiliar to many African Americans.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zydeco
Zydeco is a form of uniquely American roots or folk music. It evolved in southwest Louisiana in the early 19th century from forms of "la la" Creole music. The rural Creoles of southwest Louisiana and southeast Texas still sing in Louisiana Creole French...

Zydeco music was born in the late 1860s as a blend of Cajun music and two other "new" American music styles: blues and rhythm and blues. Haitian rhythms were also added, as Haitian natives moved to Louisiana to help harvest the new cash crop - sugarcane.

From http://web.lsue.edu/acadgate/music/history.htm "Archive Files of Cajun, Creole, and Zydeco Musicians Posted between 1999 and 2008"

In my opinion, the page whose link is provided above provides information about Creole (Zydeco) music and about the related genre from Louisiana, USA -Cajun music. I consider that entire page to be a must read for those (such as me) who are interested in the history of those genres. However, I'm only posting a small excerpt from that article.

Both Cajun music and the Creole music that evolved into Zydeco are the products of a combination of influences found only in Southwest Louisiana. According to Alan Lomax in his notes to a CD collection of field recordings in Louisiana that he and his father, John Lomax, completed in the 1930s, "the Cajun and Creole traditions of Southwest Louisiana are unique in the blending of European, African, and Amerindian qualities."

...The music of Creole culture drew on the same French traditions as Cajun music but added to that the influence of African music in the New World–the rhythms of the Caribbean or the soulful melodies of the blues or a combination of these sources and more. The Lomax recordings include examples of jurés, sung dances in a style typical of West Africa and the West Indies in which "melodies are built around a refrain that has a danceable rhythmic shape and that enables the group of singers to make music for collective dancing." "Blues de la prison," another song recorded by the Lomaxes, draws on the style of singing that evolved from West Africa to become American blues.

...Like the Cajuns, the Creoles had house dances, clearing out all the furniture and bringing in musicians who would play until early in the morning. Often, there might be only one musician, like the legendary Amédé Ardoin, who exerted a major influence on the development of both Creole and Cajun music. Ardoin and a number of other Creole musicians would also play at white dances. Eventually, Ardoin became acquainted with the Cajun fiddler Dennis McGee. Together, they began to play at dances throughout the region. According to Dennis McGee (as quoted in Ann Savoy's book), "We played in Kaplan, at Bayou Noir, Lake Charles, everywhere. Everybody went crazy when Amédé played. Oh, I loved that little guy's music…. He had a song he'd cry out in–it would make me shake when he'd take to singing it." Most Cajun vocalists also used a high-pitched singing style to match the musical key of the songs and to carry across the dance floor, but few singers could approach the emotional power of Amédé Ardoin.

...The Lafayette-based organization C.R.E.O.L.E, Inc. defines Creoles “as individuals of African descent whose cultural roots have been influenced by other cultures such as French, Spanish, and/or Indian. These individuals have traveled through the centuries carrying their oral history, art forms, culinary skills, religious beliefs and kaleidoscope culture.” The Louisiana Creole Heritage Center defines Creoles as “people of mixed French, African, Spanish, and Native American ancestry, most of who reside in or have familial ties to Louisiana." Using either definition, Zydeco is “Creole music,” created and performed by Creoles. However, in the way the term is widely used today specifically in reference to music, “Creole” usually describes music performed by Creoles in the Creole language, in the old style that includes the fiddle as part of the instrumentation, a music known in an earlier era as “la-la music.” In interviews, Canray Fontenot and Bois Sec Ardoin both referred to their music as “Creole music." Clifton Chenier, the King of Zydeco, sang many of his songs in Creole, including some classic Zydeco songs performed with his uncle Morris Chenier on fiddle, and many Zydeco bands include music from the older Creole tradition as part of their repertoire, so, in practice, the terminology used to describe Creole music in Southwest Louisiana can be applied in a variety of ways. In the case of the group the Creole Zydeco Farmers, "Creole" might refer to music, language, culture, and ethnic background all at the same time. The key point is that both the older style la-la music and today's Zydeco are products of the Creole people of Southwest Louisiana and their rich culture.

...Everyone agrees that the name Zydeco is derived from the phrase "les haricots sont pas salés": the snapbeans are not salty. Tisserand and Ben Sandmel both discuss the history of the word Zydeco and its variants like zordico. Barry Ancelet has an essay on the term in Creoles of Color of the Gulf South. For most listeners of Zydeco, however, the musical meaning is captured in Clifton Chenier's signature song, "Zydeco Sont Pas Salé," recorded in 1965 at the Gold Star studio in Houston.

VIDEOS

Video #1: Boozoo Chavis : Paper In My Shoe (Live)

Uploaded by 1000Magicians on Nov 3, 2010 Boozoo on the song that gave him his break-through back in the 50's. This from 1988 UK documentary 'Aly Meets The Cajuns'

Video #2: Buckwheat Zydeco - Hey Ma Petit Fille

Video #3: Clifton Chenier I'm a Hog for You

Posted by nyekurity / July 11, 2009

Video #4: Queen Ida and The Bon Temps Zydeco Band - Rosa Majeur

Posted by sexmex5 / April 06, 2008

My thanks to the authors of that ffeatured article, the performers of those featured videos, and the uploaders of those videos.

Thanks for visiting this page. Viewer comments are welcome.

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