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Rosie Ledet's sound sizzles like good love on a hot Louisiana night.

Zydeco Sweetheart

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Chances to hear live zydeco music in this area were rare a few short years ago. But today, as the popularity of the high-energy dance music has spread beyond its Southwest Louisiana home, zydeco can be heard regularly in these parts. On Wednesday, June 6, Rosie Ledet brings her accordion-driven sounds from the bayou to the Boulders Concert Series stage.

Though Rosie grew up in the heart of zydeco country, she wasn't drawn to the music's African and Caribbean rhythms from the start. As kids, she and her peers were not interested in the music, thinking zydeco was strictly for old folks. It wasn't until she was 18 and went to hear zydeco king Boozoo Chavis at a dance near her home in Church Point, La., that she realized what she had been missing.

On the sly, Rosie borrowed an accordion from acquaintance and local musician Morris Ledet and learned how to play some tunes. After she got up the nerve to surprise Morris (her future husband) with her fledgling talent, he formed a new band with Rosie as its attractive centerpiece.

The idea of a woman leading a zydeco band was not a new one. Queen Ida and Ann Goodley had opened those doors. But the idea was still novel and "Zydeco Sweetheart" Ledet and her band (with Morris on bass) quickly caught on at local dances. With Rosie on accordion and handling lead vocals with plenty of sexy soul, the players were soon making the rounds on the Louisiana-Texas zydeco circuit. In 1994, the band cut its first CD. With its reputation growing, the group played its way across Northern Europe and found itself on prestigious festival stages in the United States, including the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

During the past few years, Rosie and the band have made their mark on the zydeco scene with a sound that leans on, but is not bound by, strict musical traditions. Rosie does not speak French; she rarely sings in the language and her original tunes make up the bulk of the group's repertoire. But the sound is fresh and appealing as she mixes ballads and R&B influences with the up-tempo dance tunes. Her voice a simmering alto, Rosie coaxes as much sex out of her lyrics as she does good-natured fun, and she's not shy with a frank term or two. Songs included on her sixth and most recent CD, "It's A Groove Thing," shake with lover's fire.

Some fans of traditional zydeco may find Rosie's sound too modern. But to these ears, Ledet punches out an exciting sound that rocks with dance-hall fever and sizzles like good love on a hot Louisiana

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