Louisiana travelers find an abundance of music
If a rich history and world-acclaimed cuisine are the head and heart of Louisiana, music is its collective soul. The offerings vary from the state’s indigenous jazz, Cajun and zydeco music to its musicians’ notable contributions to the history and evolution of American blues, country and rock ‘n’ roll.
Jazz was born in New Orleans, specifically in Congo Square and the Tremé, one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, and first flourished in the Storyville district north of the French Quarter in the early 20th century. No city in the U.S. is home to more jazz talent—one-of-a-kind composers, musicians and singers who have blended and shaped this truly American music genre.
Before jazz came to prominence in New Orleans, another indigenous Louisiana music was playing. Cajun music was that of 18th-century French Acadian exiles who settled the swamps, prairies and bayous throughout south Louisiana from just outside of New Orleans to present-day east Texas. It is a blend of French folk music of the era with influence from the area’s Native American, Anglo-American and European populations.
Outside Louisiana, Cajun and zydeco are often used interchangeably, but there are differences. Zydeco, the younger of the two genres, shares some of Cajun music’s traits. Zydeco was the music of Creole sharecroppers and farmers in south Louisiana. While European music traditions influenced Cajun music, African, Caribbean and later the American blues music genres influenced zydeco music.
American blues and rhythm and blues originated from field hollers sung by workers in the sugar cane and cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta region. Louisiana songwriters, producers and recording engineers played a great role in the genre’s evolution. Blues music legends were born or learned their trade in rural areas along the Mississippi and Red rivers in Louisiana.
During the mid-20th century, artists shifted the music from Louisiana’s countryside to urban areas. Musicians in New Orleans began merging traditional blues into more commercial-sounding music, hoping to get airplay and sell records. New Orleans soon became a southern hub for the R&B industry, a haven not only for successful artists but also for national-level music industry activities.
Both traditional blues and R&B strongly influenced the evolution of all popular American music genres, most notably by mixing with traditional country music to spawn rockabilly, honky tonk and ultimately rock ‘n’ roll music. Country music was passed down through generations until the age of live radio shows in the 1900s. One of the most important shows was Louisiana Hayride, which debuted in 1948 and was broadcast throughout the South from Shreveport’s Municipal Auditorium. Hayride was the launching pad for the careers of country, honky-tonk and rock artists Elvis Presley and Hank Williams.
Come pick your passion in Louisiana.
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