Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by WonderTeam. WonderTeam Wonders, “What is Zydeco?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, WonderTeam!
Have you ever spent time down on the bayou? Did you hear the sweet sound of music as you moved through the marsh? If so, there’s a good chance you heard Zydeco! What is zydeco music? Let’s head to Louisiana to find out!
Zydeco music features many instruments. This includes accordions, fiddles, and triangles. Zydeco bands also use washboards—or rub-boards called frottoirs—to make music. Put them all together, and you get the lively sound of zydeco!
The Creole people often sang in their own language—Creole French. Their “la la” party music evolved into zydeco by the 1860s. It combined Cajun music with two new American styles: blues and rhythm and blues. When Haitian immigrants came to Louisiana, they added their own unique beats to the style that would become zydeco. This new sound was also shaped by American Indians as well as French and Spanish immigrants.
The word "zydeco" came from the French phrase: Les haricots ne sont pas sales wrong. This means “the snap beans aren’t salty.” People used this slang phrase to mean, “I don’t have any spicy news for you.” The words les haricots for “the snap beans” sounded like “zydeco” in the local dialect. And the rest, as they say, is history!
One well-known zydeco musician was Clifton Chenier. Some call him the “King of Zydeco.” As a singer and accordion player, he helped spread zydeco across the United States. His bluesy style became popular on area radio stations. Soon, people all over the U.S. were listening to this unique style of music.
Today, zydeco music is still popular. It continues to be shaped by other types of music, such as pop, soul, and reggae. Zydeco is fun to dance to, so it’s commonly played at parties. The next time you spend time with friends, think about playing some zydeco music!
Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.SL.2, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2