Music exhibit special for several reasons, Iberville Museum director says

Staff Report

The upcoming music exhibit holds a special place for the Iberville Museum curator, for more than one reason.

It’s the first exhibit launched since the pandemic, which comes as visitation has increased considerably, Director/Curator Meagan Sylvester said.

Aside from being the first museum exhibit to open since the pandemic, the music exhibit spotlights the impact Iberville and surrounding parishes had on music culture.

Artists such as jazz pioneer Claiborne Williams in Donaldsonville and Plaquemine native Frank Steele – a noted rhythm and blues artists – were among the homegrown talent. Jazz musicians including Jelly Roll Morton, Kid Ory and even Louis Armstrong spent time in the area early in their career.

Meagan Sylvester

“The music that came out of Iberville was very diverse, and we have some big-name musicians who developed on the jazz scene, rhythm and blues and gospel,” she said.

The “Hometown Music” exhibit marks the first since the end of the pandemic

Her grandfather, Floyd Soileau, played a prominent role in recordings and sale of records for many years.

He opened Floyd’s Record Shop in 1956 after he graduated from high school. With the help of Lawrence Walker and Aldus Roger, he established his own record label – Swallow Records – one year later.

He has released hundreds of recordings throughout his career, including music from Jambalaya Cajun Band, Nathan Abshire and Adam Hebert, among others.  

Many of the records that featured Louisiana were sold through Floyd’s Record Shop, her grandfather’s longtime business in Ville Platte.

He advertised his business KARK, a high-powered radio station from Little Rock, Ark. Its far-reaching signal paid off for him, Sylvester said.

“People heard him all over the Southwest and people would come from all over to go to Floyd’s Record Shop,” Sylvester said. “I’m definitely a millennial, so I didn’t get to hear vinyl records, but we went to Cajun and zydeco music shows around the state.

“The diversity of the music in our region has played a big role in the culture of our state, which is one reason I’m so excited about this exhibit.”