As a result of its unique colonial history, Louisiana was characterized by a three-tiered society in which the Creoles formed a middle-class that distinguished itself by its attachment to the French culture and language, and to the Catholic Church. Using creolization as a model to describe the process of cultural interchange leading to the creation of new cultural products, this thesis documents the contribution of the Creoles to the development of early jazz.
Already in the nineteenth century, Creole musicians played and/or sang classical, military and dance music as well as popular songs
and cantiques that incorporated African, European and Caribbean elements. When jazz emerged (1890-1917), they continued to play a significant role as teachers, bandleaders, instrumentalists, singers, and composers. Their most original contribution were the Creole songs, regularly performed during the formative years of jazz but recorded only during the early jazz revival of the 1940s and 1950s.