Louisiana Music, Musicians and Singers
Louisiana is one of the only states in the U.S. that can boast indigenous, popular music genres like jazz, Cajun, and zydeco. And in addition to these, Louisiana is home to notable contributions to American blues, country, and rock.
New Orleans has a special relationship with jazz and has been home to legends like Louis Armstrong. Today, a new generation of jazz musicians are honoring the tradition and adding their own unique sounds along the way including artists such as Trombone Shorty, Irvin Mayfield, Kermit Ruffins, Dirty Dozen, and Grammy-winning Rebirth Brass Band.
Outside of jazz, Cajun and zydeco music are perhaps more associated with Louisiana than any other musical genre.
Cajun music continues the musical and dancing traditions originally brought to Louisiana by The Acadians when they were exiled from Nova Scotia in the 1700s. The folk music incorporates the accordion, triangle and fiddle and can be heard in dance halls throughout southwestern Louisiana.
Zydeco, originally a blend of Louisiana French accordion music and Afro-Caribbean beats, almost always includes a washboard and an accordion and, like the blues, offered a way for the rural poor to escape hardships of life through music and dance. The music is a staple at local festivals like the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Today, the genre has evolved further with influences from soul, rap, and reggae.
The state has dozens of famous musicians and singers, spanning many decades. Here are a few names that come quickly to mind ...
- Pete Fountain
- Lous Armstrong
Kermit Ruffins at Tipitina's in New Orleans
- Irma Thomas
- The Dixie Cups
- Wayne Toups
- Wynton Marsalis
- Clifton Chenier
- Aaron Neville
- Trace Adkins
- Al Hirt
- Professor Longhair
- Michael Doucet
- Allen Toussaint
- Jerry Lee Lewis
- Lee Dorsey
- Mahalia Jackson
- Harry Connick, Jr.
- Branford Marsalis
- Ernie K-Doe
- The Neville Brothers
- Zachary Richard
- Louis Prima
- The Dukes of Dixieland
- Dr. John
- Clarence "Frogman" Henry
- Kermit Ruffins
- Harold Baptiste
Musical interlude in front of St. Louis Cathedral in the New Orleans French Quarter
(Photograph courtesy of LouisianaTravel.com)
Cajun Music from Lafayette resident Cedric Watson:
A Mini-Documentary from Louisiana Travel
Cajun and Zydeco Music in Louisiana
Video from Louisiana Travel
Visit LouisianaTravel.com for more information about Louisiana music