Current markers

Zydeco Music in Frenchtown

Main Image
Year: 2007
Marker Number: 00121
Street: 3100 Collingsworth at 3400 Eastex Fwy. (Hwy. 59)
City: Houston
Zip Code: 77020
Longitude: 95 24.330
Latitude: 29 48.178
Key Map: 454W
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In the 1920's, Creole families from Louisiana, known as "Creoles of Color," migrated to Houston, establishing the neighborhood known as Frenchtown. In addition to their culture and language, they also brought their music to Houston. Zydeco, a fusion of traditional Creole music and other styles, became an important form of expression for the families that settled in Frenchtown. Traditional Creole music featured an accordion backed by washboard percussion and sometimes a fiddle. This music was an integral part of social gatherings, called LA-LAs, which served the purpose of raising funds for the community. By the 1940s, musicians blended the music, also known as LA-LA, with Jazz and Blues to form the distinctive sound known as Zydeco. As the musical form grew in popularity, several Frenchtown venues, including the Silver Slipper, began to showcase Zydeco musicians. Another popular club was Johnson's, established by Charley Johnson; Lonnie Mitchell, Manager of the club after Johnson's death, also performed there. Johnson's granddaughter, Doris McClendon, later ran the club, changing its name to the Continental Lounge and Zydeco Ballroom. A regular performer was Clifton Chenier, known as the "King of Zydeco." An innovator, he modernized the style by adding electric guitars, a bass, drums, a saxophone and a trumpet to the more customary musical instruments. Through the years, the population of Frenchtown has become increasingly diverse. However, renewed interest in Zydeco in the late 20th Century helped ensure this dynamic neighborhood will continue to preserve its rich musical and cultural heritage. (2007)



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