”Zydeco Star” A fusion of cultures
By Anamaria Bech
Click aqui para español- > ”Zydeco Star”Una fusión de culturas
Zydeco superstar Rockin ‘Dopsie Jr. collaborated on “Zydeco Star,” the latest single by composer Fermin Ceballos. The multi-talented Dominican artist based in New Orleans will release Zydeco Star on April 24, the second single of his upcoming album, Bochinche.
The idea for the collaboration came after Ceballos met Dopsie Jr. in 2019 when he was giving a concert with his merengue band at a West Bank bar. “When he arrived, we were surprised, and I dared to ask him if he wanted to play a merengue with us. He went to the car and brought his washboard, and played with us. I remember that he loved it, and then he told me, ‘I wanna do something with you, little brother.’”
Although they ran into each other at various festivals, it was only until the 2020 French Quarter Fest opening ceremony that they had a chance to chat again about the collaboration. This time, the busy schedule of Rockin’ Dopsie Jr. and the Zydeco Twisters was clearing up as it was the early days of the pandemic that affected the band’s commitments in Europe.
Rockin’ Dopsie Jr. grew up in a musical family from Lafayette, Louisiana. Although his first instrument was the accordion, the washboard is the signature that sets him apart. The washboard gave him the mobility he needs for his energetic performances that include jumping up and down, doing splits, and dancing in a way that captivates an audience unable to resist dancing to his music.
Rockin’ Dopsie Jr. has managed to spread the traditional music of the Acadian Cajun region of Louisiana worldwide. He has carried on his father’s legacy, the King of Zydeco, Rockin’ Dopsie Sr, and has brought this music to broader audiences.
For Fermin Ceballos, working on this collaboration goes beyond two artists creating together. It’s a chance to bring the rhythm to other communities. Ceballos wrote “Zydeco Star,” zydeco mixed with bachata and folk-rock influences with lyrics in English and Spanish, to honor the impact of Rockin’ Dopsie Jr. on the genre.
The process of creating the single took about eight months. The process happened organically. Ceballos witnessed the professionalism and humility of the renowned interpreter, who allowed the composer’s creative freedom. ‘We met at my home, rehearsed the lyrics, the music, and then we met in the studio where we recorded the song.”
Fusing zydeco and bachata was only possible because of the accordion. “This was the strongest link because, although we can fuse the two genres, they have a different rhythmic pattern. But the accordion unites them,” explains Ceballos, adding that the güira is replaced in this song by the famous washboard played by Dopsie Jr.
“When I heard the rhythm, the drums, and the base, it was so different for me,” said Dopsie Jr. Having recorded with artists such as Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, and Cyndi Lauper, among others, Dopsie Jr. understands styles are unique. “They want you to follow their rhythm,” Dopsie Jr. said about collaborations with other artists and his reasoning behind not making any changes to Ceballos’ song. He admitted that “playing the washboard was a challenge, but I didn’t want to change anything. The song had that Miami vibe. It’s a perfect song for the club.”
Ceballos took the opportunity to be part of a Louisiana genre that’s as upbeat as Dominican merengue. “As an artist, it’s wonderful for me that he put his name and talent in my hands to produce the song.”
This experience was also exciting for Dopsie Jr., who gets to sing a few Spanish words in the chorus. “I’ve always thought Latin music is the best music. I’ve admired Latin music for a while, starting with one of my idols Carlos Santana.”
Dopsie Jr. is excited about the result. “I want to thank [Fermin] for letting me be on his single, and I can’t wait to play it on stage, either at one of my gigs or one of his gigs.”
As of April 24, you can find “Zydeco Star” on different music platforms, including Apple Music, Spotify, and YouTube.
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