The Origins of Zydeco and Cajun Music

The origins of Zydeco and Cajun music are separate but extremely intertwined. Cajun music has a long history that involves the French, Canada and modern Louisiana. The term “Cajun” actually comes from Acadian and refers to French settlers of Acadia, which is in modern Nova Scotia. They settled the area in the 1600s but were driven out in 1755 by the British.

After scattering around the world, a large population of the Acadians wound up in Louisiana. Isolation led to the widespread use of music as entertainment. The Acadians lived alongside equally-isolated Creole populations, and the Creole tended to sing, stomp their feet and clap their hands as they worked in the fields. This “jure” was an important precursor of modern Zydeco dancing.

Aside from the influence they had on each other, there is a strong influence from country, jazz and blues in both modern Cajun and Zydeco music. The fiddle and drums were added to Cajun music in the 1940s as the music was increasingly Americanized. Modern Zydeco shows influence from hip hop as well as its other, older roots.

Come see live performances of these important cultural music and dance styles at the Simi Valley Cajun & Blues Music Festival. It’s two days of fun for the whole family in the Simi Valley, located just north of Los Angeles in Southern California. The Festival takes places from 10:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., May 25th and 26th, 2013.