Philadelphia public radio station WXPN 88.5 FM will bring the lively music and culture of Zydeco to new audiences in Philadelphia and beyond with its multimedia Zydeco Crossroads project, supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. Zydeco Crossroads will present Zydeco music as a living cultural journey while examining its roots and cultural traditions through a 15-month series of concerts, educational events, radio specials, and a new documentary film.
The grant will also support the creation of a new, content-rich website launching in September that will feature exclusive, field-gathered audio and video, music streams, performance footage and regular original contributions from some of the genre’s most accomplished authorities and scholars. Additional events, some of which will be free, and elements to engage audiences such as Zydeco/Cajun dance lessons, film discussions, a sampler CD and more, will also help to illuminate the socioeconomic context of Zydeco and the Creole culture.
“The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage has made it possible for us to bring leading Zydeco artists to Philadelphia and expose them to a wider audience, which will help foster a broader understanding and appreciation of this unique American music,” said WXPN General Manager Roger LaMay. “Our project partnerships with Allons Danser, Philly’s home for Zydeco/Cajun music and dance, the Philadelphia Folksong Society, and the African American Museum in Philadelphia will also access additional audiences who connect to Zydeco in distinct ways.”
LaMay and WXPN Assistant General Manager Bruce Warren are leveraging their experience in developing innovative broadcast series concepts, live event collaborations, and digital content platforms to produce Zydeco Crossroads.
Zydeco is regional music of southwest Louisiana, known for its energetic rhythms driven by lively accordion and rub board instrumentation, joyful dancing and deep roots in Spanish, Creole and Native American cultures that are today being influenced by hip-hop and R&B. These all will be explored by WXPN’s syndicated World Cafe program host David Dye through interviews with prominent Zydeco music figures onsite in Lafayette, Louisiana. Acclaimed documentary filmmaker Robert Mugge, known for his previous documentaries about specific musicians and genres, including blues and regional Louisiana music, will join Dye there in order to capture content for a new film that will tell the story of Zydeco, using its musicians as a guide.
Attendees of WXPN’s annual XpoNential Music Festival taking place in Camden, NJ July 25 through July 27 will be introduced to Zydeco Crossroads through displays and takeaway materials, as well as a performance by noted Zydeco artist C.J. Chenier & the Red Hot Louisiana Band, named by Billboard as “the heir to the Zydeco throne.” A rich schedule of concerts by Zydeco artists and special events will then launch in September and culminate in a Zydeco Crossroads Weekend in late 2015 that will include the screening of the new Robert Mugge documentary film.