November 18, 2022
Jeannie Banks Thomas

Professor Jeannie Banks Thomas has edited and published Creole Soul: Zydeco Lives. This work is an exquisitely photographed volume of interviews with contemporary zydeco musicians. Featuring the voices of zydeco’s venerable senior generation and its current agents of change, Creole Soul celebrates a musical world full of passion, energy, cowboy hats and boots, banging bass, horse trailers, joy, and dazzling dance moves. Author Burt Feintuch captures an important American music in the process of significant—and sometimes controversial—change. 

The musicians speak freely, whether discussing the death of famed musician Amédé Ardoin or describing a memorable performance, such as when Boozoo Chavis played the accordion while dripping blood on stage shortly after a freak barbeque-building accident that sliced off parts of two of his fingers. The musicians address the influence of rap on today’s zydeco music and discuss how to pass music along to a younger generation—and how not to. They weigh the merits of the old-time zydeco clubs versus today’s casinos and African American trailrides, which come complete with horses and the loudest zydeco bands imaginable. In Creole Soul, zydeco musicians give an unprecedented look into their lives, their music, and their culture. 

Jeannie says, “I accompanied Burt on many of these zydeco fieldwork trips, and I saw first-hand the importance of documenting the strikingly vibrant zydeco music scene and its culture of trailrides and community. It was an honor, then, for me to edit Burt’s zydeco papers after his death and also to select the photos for the book, which were made by fine arts photographer Gary Samson. Traveling with Burt through zydeco country in Texas and Louisiana was pure joy set to a thumping bass soundtrack. With horses and accordions. I’m also grateful that editing this book gave me one more trip to the zydeco with Burt.”