For a lot of kids growing up in rural Louisiana in the ’70s, Zydeco wasn’t cool or hip. That screechy accordion music the old folks hopped around to certainly didn’t impress young Mary Rosezla Bellard Ledet–she preferred the raunchy rhythms of Z.Z. Top. But when she attended her first dance at 16 and witnessed firsthand the rough and tumble mix of blues, rock and bayou rhythms Boozoo Chavis was laying down, she fell in love, and not just with the music. “That was the night I met my husband, Morris, and he got up on stage and sat in with Boozoo Chavis. I think that’s what started it.”
After marriage, Ledet’s love affair with the music intensified. As husband Morris was off leading his own band, Ledet was stuck at home tending to his ailing mother. Ledet used her spare time to teach herself the accordion by listening to records by Zydeco innovators Clifton Chenier and Chavis.
By her 23rd birthday, she had enough original songs to cut a demo, which became her debut, 1994’s Sweet Brown Sugar. Six albums later, Ledet’s brand of blues-tinged Zydeco has made her one of the genre’s most popular performers. Ledet, the only female Zydeco performer since Queen Ida to front her own band, says she’s not sure why there aren’t more women in Zydeco. “It’s kind of an old boys’ club. I do know there are some women who can play, but I don’t think they feel it’s their place to be on the road.”
It’s no problem for Ledet, who shares the road and the stage with husband Morris. But it’s Rosie’s show, and she has no plans to change that. “I’m just going to keep doing pretty much the same what I’m doing now, and hope that’ll work out for me.”
Rosie Ledet and her band The Zydeco Playboys play the Blue Bayou Saturday, April 2 at 10 p.m. Tickets are $14 advance, $16 day of show.