BIOGRAPHY - LOLA LOVE (The Zydeco Lady)
Lola Love, radio personality, producer, promoter, and known to the Zydeco, Blues, and Southern Soul Nation as "the Zydeco Lady" was born in the small town of San Nicolas de Ibarra in the state of Jalisco, Mexico about 28 kilometers outside of Guadalajara. Her family migrated to the United States when she was 2 years old. Lola began her journey and interest in the world of radio broadcasting by chance at the age of 5 when she and her older sister, Carmen, became lost at a local music festival headlined by the great, cultural icon Vicente Fernández at the Santa Clara Fairgrounds in Santa Clara, California. The festival security found Lola and Carmen and brought them on stage while Vicente Fernández was performing. Mr. Fernández, seeing the two little lost girls, invited Lola and her sister to sing with him. While her sister hesitated, Lola jumped at the chance and sang a song with Vicente Fernández.
“I can still remember holding the microphone and singing with Mr. Fernández. I remember hearing the richness of his voice when he spoke and sang to the crowd before it went out of the microphone to the audience, and the feeling I had that day. That was the day my passion and respect for the power of the voice and the spoken word was born.”
After this experience, Lola began to listen and to imitate local radio personalities she heard on the radio, and she learned to recite public service announcements, in particular, the emergency broadcast public service announcement. By the time she was 8 years old, Lola was recording her voice on tape on a used tape player given to her and using that same tape player to record the performances of the local children’s choir in which she participated.
“We were a very poor family and could barely afford basic necessities, so an audio tape was an extreme luxury. I must have used that same tape over and over for over two years! It probably didn’t mean much to other people, but that was my gem, and I learned to maximize the use and potential of what little I had, I learned to improvise and find a way to make things happen for the best.”
Her interest in the radio industry grew as she became an avid listener and had the opportunity to meet the late Rick Chase, a San Francisco, on air personality for 106.1 KMEL. A few years later, she began working on the street marketing team and as an intern for 98.1 Kiss FM. She later began working the operations board during the midnight and weekend shifts at KBLX 102.9FM. While she enjoyed her growing experience in radio, she began to understand the complexities and contradiction of mainstream radio and the music industry.
“There is so much great music out there, no matter what genre it is, when a person opens themselves to music, there are no boundaries, only creativity. However, one of the realities I had to struggle with was that the industry is driven by big business profit first. Talent, creativity, culture, tradition, and in many instances a sense of fairness to the musicians are not the driving motivation in the mainstream industry, so great music can be forgotten or never heard depending on the financial interest of the moment”.
Lola’s understanding of the impact and legacy of the blues began when she listened to several recordings by the late E. Rodney Jones while she was training on the midnight shift at KFJC 88.9FM at Foothill College.
“When I heard E. Rodney Jones for the first time it was like stepping into a brand new world. The natural power, passion, and integrity in his voice brought me and new generations of young people into the blues and Southern Soul music. He was a true pioneer and I wanted to pattern my career after this great man.”
Her introduction to Zydeco Music came in 2005, when she met Rod Sias, the founder of the Zydeco Historical & Preservation Society and owner of Zydeco Authentica at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in East Palo Alto, California.
“I met Rod after the after the Sunday Mass. He was out there after church, basically telling everyone, in particular the younger parishioners about this music called “Zydeco “and this musical movement and culture he called the “Zydeco Nation.” I had heard about Zydeco music because of the older parishioners had said that St. Francis of Assisi use to be a major stop for Zydeco and Creole musicians from the South, and the music had always been presented in more traditional way. Rod’s understanding of the black Creole music and culture of Southwest Louisiana was very clear, and he presented the music in its present, dynamic, and evolving form, without dismissing the traditional expressions in which the music evolved. He gave me some Creole and Zydeco Music to listen to, and the music and accordion seemed natural to me since I grew up in an accordion culture and many people in my family were musicians. Once I heard it, I became hooked on Zydeco Music!”
About one month later, Rod approached Lola after church and they had lengthy discussion conversation about future of Zydeco music and he asked Lola if she would be interested being the voice of a new web project he was developing called the “Zydeco Workout.”
“Rod knew that I was working at KBLX on the operations board and marketing team and he had heard me host a few church events. He asked me if I would be interested in redeveloping and rethinking an idea that he, Mona Kennerson (then SDF Field Director and coordinator of the Original Southwest Louisiana Festival), and Gervis Williams (an on air personality at the then newly formed community radio station called KOCZ 103.7 FM in Opelousas, Louisiana) initially developed a radio program called the “Zydeco Mid-day Workout and Creole Heritage Hour” in 2002. According to Rod, the leadership of KOCZ and the Original Southwest Louisiana Festival had changed, and leadership of the Southern Development Foundation was not interested in developing the project. He gave me old video footage of “Zydeco Mid-day Workout and Creole Heritage Hour” show and the “Big Lloyd and B-Mill Zydeco Show” to evaluate. Once, I saw the video footage, and began to really listen to the traditional Creole music and contemporary Zydeco Music, from there, I never looked back!”
Developing the Zydeco Workout featuring Lola Love proved to be a real challenge and significant commitment.
“When I first started working on developing the Zydeco Workout, everything seemed overwhelming. I mean, ZydecoOnline.com was already on its second redesign. There was already an overall vision and master plan in place, and a small group of people who had been working together for years to ensure that this vision became a successful reality. My first challenge was to match that level of commitment.” “I read everything I could get my hands on about Creole Culture and Zydeco Music. I went to Zydeco and Creole festivals, church dances, reached out and talked to people who lived and drove the culture. I learned a lot about not only Zydeco Music and Creole culture, I even discovered that I had relatives in Texas and Louisiana!”
As Lola began to develop the Zydeco Workout, she began to make the connection between Zydeco, the Blues, and Southern Soul Music.
“Creole music is the solid foundation in which Zydeco Music is built upon; however, Zydeco Music in it modern form is fluid, incorporating elements of the blues, southern soul, and other musical traditions while maintaining its rural black Creole musical foundation.” The Blues and Southern Soul music is an important element that cannot be ignored and has help to define Zydeco Music in its modern form. The more I learn about pioneering Zydeco Musicians like Clifton Chenier, Marcel Dugas, Roy Carrier, Lawrence Ardoin, Zydeco Joe, Queen Ida, Bois Sec Ardoin, Buckwheat Zydeco, Goldman Thibodeaux, Lynn August, Wilfred Chevis, and Fernest Arceneaux, the more it makes me appreciate the co-existence and merging of the rural southern Blues tradition and the rural Creole musical tradition. This informs the way I approach and play the music.”
Lola Love’s growth and passion for Zydeco, Southern Soul, and Blues music has not developed in a vacuum. She credits her progress in the radio industry and here understanding of Zydeco, Southern Soul and Blues Music culture to the guidance, encouragement, and advice of what she calls “living cultural legends” such as Mrs. Mary Thomas, John Broussard, Melvin Ceasar, Don Samuel, and J.B. Adams.
“I have been fortunate and blessed to be able to reach out to “living cultural custodians and legends” who have not only given me wise counsel and advice, but also serve as standard bearers of the craft. It is truly a gift to be able to learn from people who have a genuine understanding, love and respect for the culture.”
Since the summer of 2005, Lola Love (your Zydeco Lady) has been hosting The Zydeco Workout featuring Lola Love every weekend on KZSU Stanford 90.1 FM in Palo Alto, California (streaming at http://kzsu.stanford.edu/) and in 2012 on KPCP 88.3 FM, New Roads Louisiana (streaming at www.KPCP883.org) and introducing Zydeco, Creole, Southern Soul and Blues Music to new generations of listeners who would otherwise not have access Louisiana and Texas Creole Music.