Black History Culture : A shortened History of Zydeco

Discussion in 'Black History - Culture - Panafricanism' started by MississippiRed, Jan 11, 2006.

  1. MississippiRed

    MississippiRed Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    "A BRIEF HISTORY OF ZYDECO

    The music originated by the Creoles of African decent, brought to Southwest Louisiana in the early 1600's. Creoles of African decent maintained the music of their ancestors, that soon became differentiated in this area of the state by the part African, part French dialect spoken. The Louisiana Creoles should not be confused with the Acadians of European descent who settled the same area of Louisiana in the mid 1700s by way of Eastern Canada. Now commonly referred to as Cajuns, a once derogatory term, that Louisiana Acadians have come to be proud of today.

    Africans in America performed on their own hand made musical instruments, such as drums, guitars, woodwind instruments and anything else that made a good sound such as a tub, crate, or a wash board to name a few. The African "bamboula" or drum was not allowed because of the distant communication it could provide between Africans during the time of slavery.

    Around the late 1800s the accordion an invention derived from the many African aerophone instruments and the Chinese sheng, was introduced to Southwest Louisiana by German immigrants who settled in Southwest Louisiana after escaping the poverty of their country. It was not long before the Creoles began to squeeze new life into this instrument and incorporated it into their style of music. The Cajuns at first did not take a liking to this new music box and rejected it in favor of their traditional fiddle and triangle.

    Just as African families got together across the river in New Orleans on Congo Square giving us the origins of Jazz. The rural families in Southwest Louisiana got together for a party at each other's houses, known as "Le Bals de Maison". This was where families got together after laboring in the fields, for some dancing and eating. Preparing some of the same foods brought from their mother land such as rice, yams, and okra, resulting in West African dishes such as gumbo, jambalaya, cous cous, rice cakes and sweet potato pies.

    One performer that was very popular in those days was Amede' Ardoin, the son of slaves. Amede', is known as the father of Creole and Cajun music. One of the first Southwest Louisiana accordion players to have his music recorded by a major label. Amede' set the standard for both genres of music. He was in big demand for performances at Creole house parties and also Cajun parties known as a "fais do do" (Party until you sleep). He performed two different styles one accompanied by the Cajun fiddle and triangle playing a waltz tempo, and the other accompanied by the household washboard and upbeat African rhythms that Creoles referred to as "la la', a term believed to be West African in origin.

    Most of the songs he wrote were about a woman named Jolie. Later the Cajuns would adapt one of his songs and name it "Jolie Blanc" (white), later renamed "Jolie Blonde", which is now commonly referred to as the "Cajun National Anthem". Amede' life ended due to injuries received after a performance at one of the Cajun parties, by two men believed to be jealous of his race, talent and popularity.

    The great Mississippi river flood of 1927 flooded over 1/3 of the state, creating homeless situations for much of Southern Louisiana. In search of higher ground many Creoles began to move west settling across the Sabine in Southeast Texas towns such as Port Arthur, Beaumont, Houston, and all points in between. Later the Southeast Texas oil boom made it easy for more Creole's to relocate there and take advantage of the jobs, living with relatives already established there.

    During this time as the Creole Culture began to expand west so did the music. The Creoles were of the Catholic faith and were pretty much denied access to the white Catholic Churches of Southeast Texas just as they were in Louisiana. Determined to practice their faith they began having the house parties or "la la s" to raise money for construction of their own churches, and sent for the musicians back home to perform.

    Creole country has extended beyond the Louisiana state line and have a significant population on both sides of the border that encompass the area of Southwest Louisiana and Southeast Texas. Just as Memphis became the hub for Mississippi blues, Houston has become the hub for Louisiana zydeco embracing it many years before it caught on across the Mississippi in New Orleans.

    One of the musicians they sent back home for was Clifton Chenier known as the King of Zydeco, born around Opelousas, La. in 1925. Receiving inspiration from his father Joseph Chenier, he was given his first piano accordion and lessons by a family friend in Opelousas named Ezeb Lazard, the last name pronounced in Creole as laza. As writers wrote of this account, it was sometimes humorous to see how they tried to translate and spell words of the Creole language in order to explain the music, for instance Ezeb's name in different accounts is spelled as Eseb Lasa, Ezeb Laza, Esi Blaza or Isib Lasa. Which brings us to how the Creole celebration became known as zydeco.

    Clifton Chenier took the music from the farms of Louisiana to Southeast Texas. The music got it's greatest exposure in the big city of Houston, sharing it with many outside of the Creole Culture. It caught the attention of record labels, and others in the music industry, that gave it exposure nationwide. With his Red Hot Louisiana Band, Clifton performed his rendition of a popular song among the Creoles titled, "Les haricots est pas sales", meaning there is no salt in the snapbeans.

    Clifton performed an upbeat version of this song that became even more popular. There was also a certain dance the Creoles did to the music. (Clifton and his brother Cleveland who played the rubboard, or in Creole known as a frotior, innovated a new design for the household washboard used in the music, by drawing a diagram in the dirt at a Texas oil refinery a design for the rubboard , and had a metal worker at the refinery fabricate the sleek design that is used today.) This new upbeat version of the music was different from the traditional "la la" style and soon Clifton and many other artist began to add different lyrics and song titles to this new style, but still referred to it as "les haricot", the two words were pronounced as one word with the syllable r sounding like the letter d and the t silent.

    Writers and translators began to try and spell the pronunciation "les haricot and came up with many variations as they did with Ezeb Lazard's name with spellings such as; zodico, zotticoe, zadico, zologo, soloco, zordico, salico, and zydeco among others. Creoles like there African ancestors were not very interested in labels, they created the music and the musical instruments for the pleasure and enjoyment of it all. Record lables and promoters outside of the Creole community needed an invariable label and so the spelling z-y-d-e-c-o was used more widely. At the same time this became news to the Creoles, who didn't mind the English spelling, as long as intentions were not to name it and claim it, or label it as Cajun music, as did much of the Creole cuisine became known as Cajun food.

    The word zydeco has become synonymous with having a party . It describes not only music but the dance and the whole experience of early house parties that included music, dance, food and socialization Creole style. Clifton Chenier described it all in food terms; "Es fatback, snapbeans, potatoes, all mixed together." If there is an accordion and a rubboard playing , 9 times out of 10 "it's gonna be zydeco!"


    http://users3.ev1.net/~zatu2/nzs/history.htm

    MississippiRed
     
  2. Isaiah

    Isaiah Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Hey, Red, that's a nice page, man... Back in the day of the free downloads, I downloaded some Clifton Chenier stuff, and I dug it... I think one of the cuts was the standard, Fire On The Bayou, though I haven't heard it in awhile... On another note, I heard Clif and Lightnin' Hopkins were cousins...


    Peace!
    Isaiah
     
  3. MississippiRed

    MississippiRed Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Yeah bruh I love Clifton Chenier, BooZoo Chavis, Buckwheat Zydeco and slew of other cats...Zydeco is infectious bruh....oh and that's not hearsay....Clifton and old Lightning are cousins........boy would have loved to get them two together to play .....they could play and I could sip and handle dogs....lol....


    Red
     
  4. Isaiah

    Isaiah Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Yeah, man, BUCKWHEAT has this uptempo piece that's always played on this show I used to listen to on Saturday Mornings! This white guy named Bob Porter has this show on a Jazz station, (WBGO NEWARK) which plays all the jump band, early R&B stuff I've come to love, and Buck's song is like his theme music(smile!) YOW, but I can't remember the title to that badness!

    Sip, you ever heard this sister, Jessie Mae Hemphill??? She's the daughter of an old Mississippi Mountain Bluesmen, Sid Hemphill, and she's apparently a chip off the old block... All I know is sister blows... Gotta present some stuff on her, too...



    Peace!
    Isaiah
     
  5. Omowale Jabali

    Omowale Jabali The Cosmic Journeyman PREMIUM MEMBER

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    T Brousssard and the Zydeco Steppers


     
  6. Omowale Jabali

    Omowale Jabali The Cosmic Journeyman PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Buckwheat Zydeco

     
  7. $$RICH$$

    $$RICH$$ Lyon King Admin. STAFF

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    I've heard of Jessie mae hemphill she can blow fo real i've heard her one time and was blown away !

    I remember when i went poeticly on this to enlighten the world of this music and classic of our culture.
     
  8. cherryblossom

    cherryblossom Banned MEMBER

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    I lived in TX for a while and traveled to/visited Louisiana often.

    It's very widespread in parts of Texas also. Man, they get DOWN!

    Love me some Zydeco too! Thanks for this topic!
     
  9. Omowale Jabali

    Omowale Jabali The Cosmic Journeyman PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Bump for reference
     
  10. MsVeraisblessed

    MsVeraisblessed Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    All the singers that's mentioned,..i love them and their music, too.
     
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