Zydeco is a distinct music style that evolved during the mid-1900s in rural southwest Louisiana.

Originally called “la la” by French-speaking, black Creole sharecroppers, zydeco blends blues, rhythm and blues and the sounds of early folk-music traditions.

The word zydeco comes from the French words for snap beans, “les haricots.” Rural families commonly used the phrase, “Les haricots sont pas sale,” which translates to “the beans aren’t salty.” For Louisiana Creoles, this was another way of saying that times were hard.

However, the term may also refer to the West African word zara, which means music and dance.

Early zydeco music included the accordion, fiddle and washboard, called a frottoir. Today’s zydeco songs also include the electric guitar, bass, keyboard and drums.

Clifton Chenier, billed the ‘King of Zydeco,’ was born near Opelousas. Chenier helped to pioneer the zydeco music movement. In 1983, he won a Grammy for his record, “I’m Here,” and was later inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for his album, Bogalusa Boogie. In 2014, he was honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement award.

In 1982, the first Southwest Original Louisiana Zydeco Music Festival took place in a soybean field in Plaisance, Louisiana, a small community on the outskirts of Opelousas. Zydeco music festivals are now celebrated across the U.S. and in Europe.

In 2000, the Louisiana State Legislature designated Opelousas as Zydeco Music Capital of the World.

Allons Zydeco! 

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