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Michael Tisserand on the difference between Zydeco and Cajun music in roots and purpose

michael tisserand

Photo: cover of The Kingdom of Zydeco by Michael Tisserand

On a recent trip to Lafayette, Louisiana, we had a chance to talk with with Michael Tisserand, the New Orleans writer and author of an essential book about Zydeco music, The Kingdom of Zydeco. He talked with us about the difference between zydeco and cajun music in both roots and purpose:

The difference between Cajun and Zydeco music is Zydeco music reflects the creole origins of its performers, heavily influeced by African Carribean and African music. Cajun music reflects the Acadian white Cajuns coming down from current day Nova Scotia.

Tisserand went on to talk about the importance of dance in the zydeco community:

… first and foremost, zydeco is a dance music. It’s music with a purpose, its music for dancing. The essence of zydeco is the music especially on some of the early songs like “Paper In My Shoe” and “Zydeco Sont Pas Salés” is that these are songs about poverty, and they’re songs about overcoming poverty with spirit.

Listen to the full interview segment below.

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