Home » Cajun and Zydeco Really are Melting Pots

Cajun and Zydeco Really are Melting Pots

Barry Ancelet starts his excellent article on Cajun and zydeco with an important — perhaps pivotal — point: The two are different, though deeply related.

He writes that Cajun music belongs to the white Cajuns of south Louisiana. Zydeco is the music of the black Creoles of the same region. They overlap, he says, in repertoire and style but remain distinct. “At the same time, each culture proudly and carefully preserves the identity of its own musical expression,” he writes.

The Creoles sang the western French folk songs that the Acadians brought when they were exhiled from Nova Scotia during the middle part of the 18th century. Contributions were made by Native Americans (a wailing and terraced singing style), Black Creoles (rhythms, percussive techniques, blues and improvised singing) and the Spanish (guitar and songs), Ancelet writes. Later influences were from as far away as Austria: Jewish merchants brought accordions.

Razzoos also provides a definition of zydeco, though one that is far less technical than Ancelet’s. The French Creoles, the site says, blend blues, R&B, reggae and soul. The most popular venues initially were house parties, which meant that the music was upbeat, bluesy and danceable.

Ancelet writes that the name zydeco is one of several that at various times have been used to identify Black French Creole music. Earlier names were zarico, zodico, zologo and zukey. It has remaind a mysterious music to outsiders, he writes, because the lyrics are in French and Creole. Indeed, it is a language of its own. Some of the words and phrases remain hidden and are the subject of study. In the late 1920s, he wrote, Amédé Ardoin became the first zydeco artist recorded.

Razzoos lists important zydeco artists and heir most famous songs, courtesy of a DJ from Baton Rouge. The big stars — most with great names — are Boozoo Chavis, Rockin’ Sidney, Morris Francis, Fernest Arceneau, Beau Jocque, Clifton Chenier, John Delafose, Chris Ardoin and Double Clutchin’, Rosie Ledet, Nathan and he Zydeco Chachas, Willis Frudhomme, Donna Angelle, Leo Thomas (how did that name sneak in here?), Queen Ida, Nathan and the Zydeco Cha-Chas, Buckwheat Zydeco, Zydeco Force, Step Rideau and C.J. Chenier and Leroy Thomas.

Above is a Cajun Country Revival playing “You Won’t be Satisfied.” Below is Ardoin performing “Les Blues de Voyage.”

About the author


Add Comment

Click here to post a comment

Our New Things: Links to Music Sites and Info on Analog Tech and Vinyl

TDMB has focused on music and musicians. We will continue to do that, of course. We're also expanding our coverage to include vinyl and analog equipment.

More specifically, we'll look at this huge and interesting world from the perspective of music lovers who want a better experience, not committed non-audiophiles.

Check out is some of what we've written so far:

-- Assessing the Value of Vinyl Records: An Overview

-- 7 Quick Tips on Optimizing Your Turntable Cartridge

-- Why Vinyl Records Continue to Thrive

-- Finding the Best Amplifier

-- Finding the Best Phono Preamp

-- What Speakers Do I Need for My Turntable?

Check out more articles on analog equipment and vinyl.

The site also is home to The Internet Music Mapping Project, an effort to list and describe as many music-related sites as possible.

Our Music

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.

Full Disclosure

As an Amazon affiliate, this site earns a commission on every purchase made. All prices remain the same to you.