Friday, August 24, 2012

KINGS OF FRANCOPHONE AFRICAN MUSIC (1)


                        The young Yossou N`dour

N'Dour's first international album releases on Virgin, The Lion (1989), produced by George Acogny and containing the N'Dour-Gabriel composed single "Shaking The Tree"; and Set (1990), produced by Brian Eno-compadre Michael Brook, prompted Brian Cullman to write in Rolling Stone:
"If any third world performer has a real shot at the sort of universal popularity last enjoyed by Bob Marley, it's Youssou, a singer with a voice so extraordinary that the history of Africa seems locked inside it."
In the summer of 1991, Youssou N'Dour signed to Spike Lee's 40 Acres and A Mule Musicworks label, distributed by Columbia. N'Dour was impressed by Lee's stated commitment to
"enlarging the legacy of great African-American music"
in a wide range of styles and Lee's belief that N'Dour's music constituted a part of that legacy. The result of that union was 1992's Eyes Open; self-produced by N'Dour at his own state-of-the-art Xippi Studio in Dakar and featuring The Super Etoile, Eyes Open went on to win a Grammy Award nomination.
Since the release of Eyes Open, Youssou N'Dour was made an ambassador for UNICEF in conjunction with the Year Of The Child. In July 1993, an African opera composed by N'Dour premiered at the Paris Opera. N'Dour was the subject of a recent episode of the BBC's Rhythms Of The Worldprogram. 
 ho appears on The Guide.


N'Dour's first international album releases on Virgin, The Lion (1989), produced by George Acogny and containing the N'Dour-Gabriel composed single "Shaking The Tree"; and Set (1990), produced by Brian Eno-compadre Michael Brook, prompted Brian Cullman to write in Rolling Stone:
"If any third world performer has a real shot at the sort of universal popularity last enjoyed by Bob Marley, it's Youssou, a singer with a voice so extraordinary that the history of Africa seems locked inside it."
In the summer of 1991, Youssou N'Dour signed to Spike Lee's 40 Acres and A Mule Musicworks label, distributed by Columbia. N'Dour was impressed by Lee's stated commitment to
"enlarging the legacy of great African-American music"
in a wide range of styles and Lee's belief that N'Dour's music constituted a part of that legacy. The result of that union was 1992's Eyes Open; self-produced by N'Dour at his own state-of-the-art Xippi Studio in Dakar and featuring The Super Etoile, Eyes Open went on to win a Grammy Award nomination.
Since the release of Eyes Open, Youssou N'Dour was made an ambassador for UNICEF in conjunction with the Year Of The Child. In July 1993, an African opera composed by N'Dour premiered at the Paris Opera. N'Dour was the subject of a recent episode of the BBC's Rhythms Of The Worldprogram. 

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today’s most celebrated African musicans, widely considered to be Senegal’s preeminent cultural figure. He is a singer, songwriter, and composer, and his works and style have influenced musicians around the world. His music blends traditional rhythms of Africa with a wide range of music including Cuban samba, hip-hop, jazz and soul.The New York Times has referred to him as “West Africa’s cultural ambassador to the world.”
Mr. Ndour was born in Dakar,Senegal,in western Africa.He began singing at  neighborhood gatherings as a child and,by his mid-teens, was performing regularly with the most successful group in Senegal at the time, the Star Band.He began to gain a following for his performances of the Senegalese dance music called mbalax.Mbaalx is a  complex fusion of popular Western music and dance such as jazz,soul,Latin,and rock, blended with sabar,the traditional  drumming and dance music of Senegal. In 1979 he formed his own group, the Etoile de Dakar,which evolved into the breakaway band Super Etoile.This group performs its own unique creation and has developed a modern African style that has had far-reaching influence.
Introduced to American audiences by Peter Gabriel on his So album and Paul Simon onGraceland,Mr Ndour and his band subsequently began a series of collaborations with Gabriel,Simon and other Western musicians.He released his first international album,The Lion,in 1989,and followed it with Set,in 1990.These two albums and a world tour with Gabriel established his place in the world of music and garnered notice from Rolling Stone and other music critics.
In 1991 he signed with Spike Lee’s record label and produced Eyes Open the following year, which won a Grammy nomination, further enhancing his reputation. The lyrics addressed a range of themes from media,military,unwanted childbirth, and the difficulties of African identity,all against the backdrop of what had become Mr.Ndour’s musical signature of traditional African elements blended with Caribbean,jazz,and pop music motifs.
In 2004 he released Egypt,an album of Islamic music that both celebrated Islam and advocated tolerance of the religion. Although he recorded the album prior to 9/11, he delayed its release to avoid an association between the music and the attacks.Nonetheless, the album sparked controversy when it was released, and both from those who felt it was unsuitable representation of Islamic music and from those who felt it inappropriate to promote Islam through pop culture. In the face of criticism and boycott.Mr Ndour remained steadfast in his conviction that the music communicated a message of tolerance and peace.The album gained widespread acclaim in the international arena and won a  Grammy award in 2005. Asubsequent documemtary about the album,Youssou Ndour:I Bring What I Love, followed him through two years of performances and conversations around the world.
Mr. Ndour has used his music to benefit causes about which he cares deeply. In 1985 he organized a concert for the release of Nelson Mandela. He has staged benefit events for malaria relief and has performed for Amnesty International concerts and in three Live 8 concerts. He serves as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador.


      Youssou N'Dour has been appointed to Senegal's new cabinet as culture and tourism minister. Photograph: Marcle Antonisse/EPA
Youssou N'Dour, the singer was disqualified from running for Senegal's presidency, but  has been appointed to the country's cabinet by the winner of the election.Senegal's newly elected president, Macky Sall, has made N'Dour the culture and tourism minister.
N'Dour and former banker Amadou Kane, who was given the finance ministry, are among a host of newcomers to the cabinet, which Sall has trimmed down to 25 posts, from around 40 under his predecessor, Abdoulaye Wade
2.FRANCOIS  LUAMBO MAKIADI (FRANCO), SORCERER OF THE GUITAR


                           Franco the Congolese Musical legend


Of the most famous musicians that continental Africa has produced, DRC’s Luambo Luanzo Makiadi Franco has etched himself an eternal place. In just a few weeks to come, rumba music enthusiasts all over the world will commemorate with great nostalgia, the October 12th 1989 demise of the Grand Master of Zairean (as the DRC was known for quite some time during Franco’s life) Music.
As the excitement steadily mounts in various quarters to remember this fallen musical titan, my mind jogs to a few years ago when listening to one such commemoration on radio. A reporter was interviewing some residents of Kinshasa, and one man made a remark that made me get interested in Franco than ever before. Of course his recognition as the foremost DRC musician is something I have always reserved for him. Yet, this remark by this rather dismissive Kinshasa resident was overly unsettling. The man went in typical Kingwana (the Swahili dialect spoken in the DRC): “Franco; yeye alikuwa anaimbaka tu mambo ya upuzi upuzi tu. Ile nzembo yake ambayo mimi iko naona iko na maana ni ile nasema ‘mwana mama, ee mwana maa ee, nabangi liwa ee nabangi liwa…” The interviewee was insistent that in his opinion, Franco was a facile and parochial musician and the only song by Franco that moved him was this one where Franco talks about his fear for death. Many accounts of Franco describe him as having considered death as a great injustice. Right from the death of his own dad when in Franco’s childhood, to the latter day in 1970 death of his younger brother Bavon Marie Marie, Franco’s view of death was quite depressive. This could be the ethos that this man on radio was imbibing from the song he quoted. Before this settled, an encounter with a lady from the DRC obviously led to conversation about Franco and his music, and her conclusion was quite simple: Franco was just about women and cheating lovers.
In my opinion, sentiments by the two who in those years of Franco would aptly be referred to as Zairois mpe Zairoise tended to present a simplistic view of the personage whom writer Graeme Ewens calls the Congo Colossus. Franco had been part of our upbringing, his songs serenading us from childhood, through our teenage, and up to now, those of us who appreciate rumba still have Franco as an indispensable part of the African rumba menu. To those who are in their late thirties and above, school days entertainment was not complete without a number by the Tout Puissant O. K. Jazz, which Franco headed for the longest time the band was alive. Franco was and still is a hero to many who greatly admired him during his life, for the kind of following he commanded not only in his home Zaire, but in Africa and the world in general. As an artist, Franco was one of the most successful of our time, yet the comments by the lady and gentleman from Kinshasa cannot be warded off just like a fly being whisked off one’s face.


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                        As a symbol of success, Franco was a typical man who rose from humble and doubt filled origins to come to stamp his will and influence on his community. He is one of the pioneer professional musicians of Congo. Although there were his predecessors in the likes of Wendo Kolosoy, who had recorded music as early as the late 1940s, and Franco’s own mentor; Ebengo Dewayon; not to forget the likes of Bowane; Franco prospered on his own to eclipse many who started before him, and others who started at the same time as him. Of the Congolese music movements that emerged in the 1950s, one can distinctly be attributed to Franco who formed such a vital tributary in Congolese music, which has continually produced world class musicians such as Antoine Nedule Monswet ‘Papa Noel’, Dalinst Ntesa, Jean Madilu Bialu  ‘System’, ‘Prince’ Youlou Mabiala among others.
Like any society in the world, the Congolese society was and still is symptomatic of inequalities in terms of access to education. Many factors contribute to these inequalities and economists and sociologists have addressed these inequalities in many a fora and publications. It is instructive to note that Franco emerged from the leeward side of the economic fence. His own mother, Mama Makiese, working as a vendor in an open air market in Kinshasa, and his railway employed father dying when Franco was still a little boy. This in itself sets a young Franco into a world where abundance is not part of nature. Educationally, all accounts about the famed musician point to very modest academic credentials. At best, he was a primary school dropout, who found more fun in playing football and playing with improvised guitars from sardine tins than burying himself in books. At the time he entered into the music world, Franco represented the artiste who is down on the ground."On the other side of the musical divide was a band formed at about the same time as Franco’s O.K Jazz, and this was Joseph Kabaselleh’s African Jazz. This is a band that boasted some of the cream of Kinshasa. Joseph (aka Grand Kalle) Kabaselle Tshamala was a high school graduate. Along with him were equally highly educated folks like Dechaud, Tino Barosa and later Pascal Emmanuel Sinamoyi ‘Tabu Ley’ (Le Marechal Rochereau) and Decteur Nico Kasanda wa Mikalayi. This spelt the first two heights from which volleys of rivalry were to be fired for many years in Congolese music, even though Franco was to later on play this down in a great show of modesty after the death of Grand Kalle in 1983, when he exuberantly talked of his admiration of the Grand Kalle, who was eight years his senior. Kalle came from a well to do family and his choice of music as a career at that point in time was quite revolutionary. For some years, Kalle was to lead the elite troupe of troubadours, while Franco led a pack of people whose muscle lay more in their skill. Later though, Franco also enlisted some elite musicians in his ranks, but up till his death, he never shed his image as the voice of the ‘commoner’.
Still with our two friends, we may appreciate Luambo Makiadi as a total ordinary person despite his extraordinary gift in music which made the Congolese press to baptize him as the sorcerer of the guitar. The two must have been commenting from the point of view expressed by people like Ngugi wa Thiong’o, who have got a socialist approach to art. Accordingly, art is supposed to serve the society in a positive way. Art is not supposed to fulfill what Marx doomed religion with- to serve as an opiate of the people. From a socialist point of view, (or the perspective that demands that the artist as a social worker is morally bound to address the burning concerns of his times) then Franco may come into the picture as a man whose performance could be given the kind of verdict that Oby Obyerodhyambo’s review of Njenga Karume’s Biography – Beyond Expectation-gave the book: Below expectation.
Franco was a naturally charismatic individual. Having started playing the guitar at a very tender age, and at times playing a guitar almost double his size with the dexterity of a wizard (no wonder he was given the appellation ‘sorcerer of the guitar’ by the fourth estate in Congo), he was such a rallying force in the late 1950s when he was arrested for a traffic offence and the populace shored their support behind him. Later, when he was incarcerated on charges of recording music replete with lewd lyrics, the same people stood by him till he was released.
As Franco’s band O.K Jazz suffered early defections starting with Jean Serge Essous (the man who is reputed to have actually assembled the initial group of musicians who later called themselves O.K Jazz) who departed in less than four years since the founding of the band, and then Vicky Longomba in 1960 when the band was only in its fifth year, his bitter rivals African Jazz were riding their ever highest crest. This was the year of the Table Ronde in Brussels (the equivalent of Kenya’s Lancaster Conference). African Jazz was the band that was chosen to go and entertain and urge the delegation on as independence negotiations were going on between the Congolese political representatives, and their Belgian colonizers; the result of which was the declaration of independence later in the year, and as the country erupted in the ecstasy of self governance, it was the African Jazz number ‘Independence Chacha’ which became the anthem not only of Congo but of the whole of Africa as many African states went on to gain their own independence from direct colonial rule. The limelight is something that every artiste craves for, and at this time when the limelight had been hogged by African Jazz, Franco was busy firing his iron.
As the Congolese slowly settled into independence (if they ever did), schisms had already formed in the great band of the Grand Kalle- African Jazz. Tabu Ley Rochereau, who had gained fame for doing the vocals on the eternal song ‘Independence Chacha’ as a twenty year old lad, and who was a gem among the fine lads of Kinshasa who spoke French with an accent; teamed up with young Nico Kasanda wa Mikalayi (the latter, a young man boasting a technical college diploma), leaving African Jazz, only three years after the Independence Chacha fame. They formed their own outfit known as African Fiesta, which is the band that was to produce the evergreen ‘Mokolo Nakokufa’ (The Day I Die), and which some people claim was the stroke that would break the camel’s back in their case to send the once promising African Fiesta into the Tabu Ley Led African Fiesta National (or African Fiesta Flash) and Decteur Nico’s Africa Fiesta Sukisa. The latter did ‘Na Mokili ya NzambeMandonnaMwasi Abandaka, among others, while Tabu Ley’s faction which gained fame for their forever hit‘Africa Mokili Mobimba’ (Africa and the Whole World) went on to cap it with a gig at the prestigious and much coveted Olympia hall in France in 1970, from whence he changed his band’s name to Afrisa International.

                                young Franco the "Sorcerer of the Guitar" 
He also had opportunity to criticize unbecoming social behavior, as evident in the number‘Tres Impoli’ (Very Impolite). In this song, Franco takes time to enumerate the many things that amount to irritation and deficiency in social etiquette, ranging from those people who go foraging other people’s fridges, reading other people’s letters in the offices they visit, combing their hair without regard to however could be eating his food from nearby…One would expect Franco to grab such an opportunity to throw salvos at the larger misbehavior by the bigwigs, or in the former song, to discuss the struggles of an African student in a foreign country. Another wasted opportunity presents itself in the song ‘Iluse’, which is a complaint by a woman to a fellow woman who borrows stuff from her but fails to return; even at times lending them over or treating them negligently. What a fertile opportunity for the singer to expand the picture! He never saw any misbehavior beyond the womenfolk, or the man who is unrefined. The political class was to him behaving quite well.
Franco also addresses the issue of immorality in quite a number of his songs. An example is the song Layile, which is a lament by a cuckolded wife, who seems to belong to the upper class that can afford trips abroad, but while she is supposed to enjoy her trips abroad, she suffers infidelity from the husband who takes such opportunities to even entertain lechers of ‘Avenir Kasavubu’ (Kinshasa’s equivalent of K-Street in Nairobi at twilight). How Luambo Makiadi could see such immorality and lament about it but fail to raise to the macrocosm to see the systemic sociological breeding grounds for this kind of lechery and heartless betrayal is baffling.
Franco was a politician in his own right. Just like all normal politicians, he had a large following of people from all walks of life, and he was quite a powerhouse in the DRC and beyond. As a politician, he seemed to be together with the people, showing ardent support for his favorite soccer side Club Vita, and also enjoying fanatical support from the women who had coalesced around this club, and talking the language of the common person. He was to even recruit into his band, former Vita player Freddy Mayaula Mayoni; the man who composed ‘Nabali Misere’ (I have married misery) .Just like a politician, Franco lived the double life of a person who understands what is happening, yet chooses to let celebration drown everything. Franco talked about hard life and survival but never talked about what was needed to tackle these ills; neither what the real cause of this suffering was. Instead, he showed such a typical politician styled approach to patriotism when he chose to support the exploitative Mobutu regime to the hilt. In the campaign anthem for the re-election of Mobutu in the elections of 1980 when Mobutu stood against himself but still got glowing support from Franco through the beautiful number Candidat na Biso Mobutu (Our Candidate Mobutu), Franco gave one of his finest. This is a song that is typical of sycophancy at its best. It is symptomatic of the naïve interpretation of patriotism in the 1980s, when even in Kenya, many songs were sung in praise of the then president Moi, at the height of repression by the Moi regime. Reputable bands like Them Mushrooms joined the bandwagon and composed Hongera Rais Moi, as Kelly Brown, another Kenyan who for a long time had coveted James Brown, reinvented himself with ‘Sisi kwa Sisi’ which was another beautiful ballad about how beautiful a land Kenya was, and ‘all praise be to president Moi, the love filled leader, and may God protect you, to live a long life’, as church hymns were being reworked to have lyrics that mentioned Moi by name and how much of God’s servant he was, in a country where the civil service was fast disappearing and being replaced by gangs of robbers, with Nyayo House underground chambers echoing with the groans of torture victims!

Read here for more info on Franco:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fran%C3%A7ois_Luambo_Makiadi
                                                               He also had opportunity to criticize unbecoming social behavior, as evident in the number ‘Tres Impoli’ (Very Impolite). In this song, Franco takes time to enumerate the many things that amount to irritation and deficiency in social etiquette, ranging from those people who go foraging other people’s fridges, reading other people’s letters in the offices they visit, combing their hair without regard to however could be eating his food from nearby…One would expect Franco to grab such an opportunity to throw salvos at the larger misbehavior by the bigwigs, or in the former song, to discuss the struggles of an African student in a foreign country. Another wasted opportunity presents itself in the song ‘Iluse’, which is a complaint by a woman to a fellow woman who borrows stuff from her but fails to return; even at times lending them over or treating them negligently. What a fertile opportunity for the singer to expand the picture! He never saw any misbehavior beyond the womenfolk, or the man who is unrefined. The political class was to him behaving quite well. Franco also addresses the issue of immorality in quite a number of his songs. An example is the song Layile, which is a lament by a cuckolded wife, who seems to belong to the upper class that can afford trips abroad, but while she is supposed to enjoy her trips abroad, she suffers infidelity from the husband who takes such opportunities to even entertain lechers of ‘Avenir Kasavubu’ (Kinshasa’s equivalent of K-Street in Nairobi at twilight). How Luambo Makiadi could see such immorality and lament about it but fail to raise to the macrocosm to see the systemic sociological breeding grounds for this kind of lechery and heartless betrayal is baffling. Franco was a politician in his own right. Just like all normal politicians, he had a large following of people from all walks of life, and he was quite a powerhouse in the DRC and beyond. As a politician, he seemed to be together with the people, showing ardent support for his favorite soccer side Club Vita, and also enjoying fanatical support from the women who had coalesced around this club, and talking the language of the common person. He was to even recruit into his band, former Vita player Freddy Mayaula Mayoni; the man who composed ‘Nabali Misere’ (I have married misery) .Just like a politician, Franco lived the double life of a person who understands what is happening, yet chooses to let celebration drown everything. Franco talked about hard life and survival but never talked about what was needed to tackle these ills; neither what the real cause of this suffering was. Instead, he showed such a typical politician styled approach to patriotism when he chose to support the exploitative Mobutu regime to the hilt. In the campaign anthem for the re-election of Mobutu in the elections of 1980 when Mobutu stood against himself but still got glowing support from Franco through the beautiful number Candidat na Biso Mobutu (Our Candidate Mobutu), Franco gave one of his finest. This is a song that is typical of sycophancy at its best. It is symptomatic of the naïve interpretation of patriotism in the 1980s, when even in Kenya, many songs were sung in praise of the then president Moi, at the height of repression by the Moi regime. Reputable bands like Them Mushrooms joined the bandwagon and composed Hongera Rais Moi, as Kelly Brown, another Kenyan who for a long time had coveted James Brown, reinvented himself with ‘Sisi kwa Sisi’ which was another beautiful ballad about how beautiful a land Kenya was, and ‘all praise be to president Moi, the love filled leader, and may God protect you, to live a long life’, as church hymns were being reworked to have lyrics that mentioned Moi by name and how much of God’s servant he was, in a country where the civil service was fast disappearing and being replaced by gangs of robbers, with Nyayo House underground chambers echoing with the groans of torture victims!
 3.  PAPA WEMBA, AFRICA`S KING OF RUMBA ROCK


Papa Wemba, often called the King of Rhumba Rock, was born in Kasai, Zaire. Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba first made his mark in 1970 in Kinshasa, where he was a singer, composer, and co-founder of the great youth group Zaiko Langa Langa. In 1974 he left to form his own band, Isife Lokole, and then in '76 began Viva La Musica.

Hoping to reach a wider audience he ended up in Paris in the early '80s, bringing with him the entire line-up of Viva La Musica. Wemba's musical vision went beyond the capabilities of his seasoned Zairen rhumba rockers as he began to experiment with a wide range of eclectic sounds.


Wemba's quite a stylish fellow, a sapeur, an aficionado of fashionable, well-designed clothing. His trendy suits with big jacket, and baggy, though tailored pants, are a strange mix of Africa, Paris, and the American zoot suit. A Soukous show is always a fashion event, and Wemba is a man of great style and taste. 


While the celebrated musical form known as "Congolese rumba" first took the Black Continent by storm in the fifties, this music uncannily retains its youthful visage today, as if face-lifted by some timelessly hip plastic surgeons of African popular dance music. Among the "surgeons" (ought we say sorcerers ?) who have helped the rumba protect its see- mingly eternal youth, Papa Wemba is surely one of the most inspired and influential. This man is everything we love in the Congolese man, with that typical wry combination of wit, humor, and sheer talent! What a proud son of Kinshasa, a temple of intelligence - and home to the most colorful and vivid French in the entire French-speaking world! The Origins of a Vocation to Sing Papa Wemba (né Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba) was born in the southern Congo region of the Kasaï River, as the eldest child in his family, which settled in Leopoldville, the capital of the Belgian Congo, shortly after his birth. Wemba's father had fought in the Belgian army during the Second World War, and later become a hunter. Wemba's mother was a professional mourner in traditional Congolese funerals, where Wemba had his initiation in public singing. Though the passion for music born of those encounters never abated in Wemba, his father wanted to bar him from a musi- 

cal career, having planned for his son a different career as a lawyer or journalist. When Wemba's father died in 1966 the only real obstacle between Wemba and his musical ambitions disappeared. Wemba began to sing in his parish church, where he experimented with the singular shrill voice which still characterizes his style. 

Jules Presley 

In the late sixties, Papa Wemba sang with various bands of the capital (renamed Kinshasa after Congo's independence in 1960) and like so many young African musicians and fans he was attracted by English and American pop music, to the degree that when he began his solo career he did so performing under the name of "Jules Presley". Wemba took part in 1969 in the formation of the most important Zairian band of the seventies - Zaïko Lango Lango. A new musical generation in Africa was waiting to pounce on its chances. In the fifties and sixties, Africa had danced to the Afro-Cuban rumba, introduced by its first great star Joseph Kabasele and continued by Luambo Makiadi, known as Franco. When rock music arrived on Africa's airwaves and shores with new beats and more excited rhythms, the rumba suddenly appeared too quiet, too slow. In a word, it had begun to sound tired - exhausted. Something new had -to be discovered. Zaïko Lango Lango seized the opportunity, revolutionizing the old- fashioned rumba with new drum patterns and electric instruments. Their success was immediate. Having emerged as leader of the band, Papa Wemba found himself firmly in the limelight. But Wemba quit Zaïko suddenly in 1975, staking his reputation on his own new band, which embraced more traditional elements, called Isifi Lokole. ("Isifi" is an acronym, in French, for "Institute of Ideological Science for the Formation of Idols". "Lokole" is the name of the traditional percussion of the Kasaï River region). Just one year later, Isifi Lokole took on another incarnation, under the name Yoko Lokole, but the successor group was not long for this world. For a few months in 1975 Wemba also sang with the Afrisa International Orchestra, created by Tabu Ley, another important Congolese musical personality with whom Wemba had collaborated in the sixties.
     The great Papa Wemba from the Congo. Picture shot at Festival Mundial, 17 June, 2007.http://www.flickr.com/photos/nailman/562176351/

Viva la musica 

Finally coming completely into his own as a bandleader, Papa Wemba created the fourteen-piece Viva la musica in 1977. Viva la musica is still alive today after nearly thirty years. As a twenty-seven-year-old star at that time, Wemba's presence extended beyond Kinshasa's music scene. His unique artistic aura imposed a whole new style, a whole new art of living, on his city and country. In a suburb of Kinshasa, Wemba recreated a traditional village, known as Molokai Village, declaring himself its leader and announcing his intention to govern the community according to traditional customs. This paradoxical utopia - at once modern and traditional - cultivated some distinctive marks of belonging as the "new art of living" found expression in speech, in clothing (as with the famous "Papa's beret" and other fashion statements), and in other areas. In 1980, Papa Wemba traveled throughout Africa on the strength of his continent-wide smash hit "Analengo". But shortly thereafter fate extended a new attraction to Wemba: the European adventure, in France at first. Working in France meant a chance to enjoy the adulation and material support of a sizeable and influential Congolese community, of course, but, above all, it placed at Wemba's disposal the creative dynamism and technical sophistication of Paris's recording studios. After an ever more prolonged period of Wemba's "exile" during the course of 1982, a rumor arose and grew in Zaire: Papa Wemba was dead, he had been murdered! Turning into collective hysteria, the rumor obliged Wemba to return home, at least to show himself, to prove he was still alive. Zaïre greeted the return of its living musical idol as if he were a king or a god. In the meantime, a new African music had begun to seduce European ears, and to attract European record companies to Zaire. But because he was bound by contract to Franco's label Visa 80, Wemba's first official collaborations with Europeans were to be delayed for several years.

World music 

During nearly thirty years of international performances with Viva la musica, Papa Wemba has been a crucial ambassador of African music. But apart from that ambassadorial role, he has first and foremost been a savvy musical intelligence capable of revealing, in music, much about the spirit of our times. While offering his music throughout the world, Wemba has also judiciously in- troduced some musical elements form around the world into his own music. Through certain revolutionary encounters, some curious and potent boundary-crossings have emerged, allowing his music to become one of the interesting melting pots of what we nowadays do not hesitate to term "world music". In this context, Wemba's eventual meeting with Peter Gabriel, one of the great names of world music, seemed almost an inevitability. The first contact between Wemba and Gabriel occurred in 1992, and its fruits included a contract with Real World, Gabriel's hand-crafted record label (or ought we say laboratory ?). "Le voyageur" (The Traveler) was the first Real World album by Wemba - both an artistic and commercial success. A second album, "Emotion", went on to earn sales of more than 500, 000 copies in 1995. "Molokaï", released in 1998, was Wemba's final album for Real World. In the space of a few short years, Wemba and Gabriel had substantially altered the musical landscape with their common efforts. Moving on to completely independent choices and experiments with his music, Wemba offered us, in 1999, an album titled "Mzee fulangenge" ("The Wise Man Who Sends Out Happiness"), produced by Alfred Nzimbi, an old companion of Ray Lema's in the famous Bobongo Stars. "Mzee fulangenge" was a dance-oriented mix of "soukouss", zouk, R & B, and even salsa (with Latin music immortal Tito Puente as a guest star), a sophisticated attempt at a personally-defined musical synthesis to "round off" (as Wemba saw it) his personal world music styles. Papa Wemba embarked on a series of new challenges in 2001: an American tour with his now mythic band, Viva la musica, followed by a new album, and culminating in an unforgettable New Year's Eve concert at the 16,000-capacity Palais Omnisports de Bercy in Paris (France's largest indoor venue for pop music). For all of the glories and perquisites of being an established international star, Papa Wemba does not forget his roots. He has remained personally involved in the life of his country in a number of ways, but especially by putting his celebrity to use in ongoing projects to promote new musical talent in the country. The Fula Ngenge Festival, in Kinshasa, aimed especially at the discovery of new artists, bears Wemba's fingerprints. As a respected heavyweight in the world music circuits of the international scene, as one of the single most influential African musicians of all time who has helped put Afro-Pop music on the map, Wemba can be proud that, for thirty years, an entire generation, and more than one, have, step by step, passionately followed the adventures of the man from Kasaï and made them their own.

And now ? 

After a career hiatus of a few years occasioned by an unhappy conflict with French justice which made front-page news throughout Africa and elsewhere, Papa Wemba, strengthened by an opportunity to meditate upon his life and artistic aims, has decided to concentrate on what he knows and does best: to make powerful and uplifting music and to touch people in their soul. The great Congolese star has just signed with a new Paris-based label, Synchronies Music. With this new team, Papa knows he must be up to the mark. More than ever, he wants to prove something with his next album, whose release is planned for the end of 2006. This work-in-progress may well reveal itself as a turning point in Wemba's career. In anticipation of the new (as yet untitled) album, fans will also be able to enjoy a his- torically unique event in Papa's career: his very first live album! In February 2006, at the intimate New Morning music hall in Paris, Papa, surrounded himself with Patrick Bebey and other friends for a rendition of some his greatest hits (including "Salakeba", "Maria Valencia", and "Show Me the Way"). The album will be released June 8th, together with a bonus DVD of the entire New Morning performance and a surprise: the first recording of "Ye Te Oh", Papa's new single, that already sounds like an enormous hit.
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.                                         Papa Wemba`s greatest hit "Kaokokorobo'

    Sometimes clothes are more than a fashion statement. Sometimes music is more than just what it sounds like. Papa Wemba is that sometimes.SEE:http://www.kalamu.com/bol/2009/10/19/papa-wemba-%E2%80%9Cpapa-wemba-mixtape%E2%80%9D/ and his website here:http://www.aozj17.dsl.pipex.com/history.html
4.  KOFFI OLOMIDE, THE MAN WITH A SILKY VOICE AND LUTHER VANDROSS OF AFRICA

Antoine Christophe Agbepa Mumba, also known as Koffi Olomide (Friday, July 13, 1956), is a DR Congolese soukous singer, dancer, producer, and composer. He is also known by a multitude of other names and aliases.He was born in Kisangani, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. His father is Congolese (Gbandi tribe from Equateur region) and his mother was born from a Sierra-Leone father and a Congolese mother (Songye tribe from Kasaï region). According to the ethnic custom of his Sierra-Leone grand father, his mother named him 'Koffi' because he was born on a Friday. Koffi grew up in the city of Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in a middle-class family, where education was valued.
                 Olomide is one of the Africa`s most popular and stylish musicians
He was born in Kisangani, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. His father is Congolese (Gbandi tribe from Equateur region) and his mother was born from a Sierra-Leone father and a Congolese mother (Songye tribe from Kasaï region). According to the ethnic custom of his Sierra-Leone grand father, his mother named him 'Koffi' because he was born on a Friday. Koffi grew up in the city of Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in a middle-class family, where education was valued.He was a very bright student. He earned a scholarship and went to study in BordeauxFrancewhere he obtained a Bachelors Degree in Business Economics. He is also reported to hold a Masters Degree in Mathematics from the University of Paris.
Upon his return to Congo in the 1970s he joined Papa Wemba's band, Viva la Musica, at first as a composer and song-writer, and later as a vocalist and lead-singer. He launched his solo career. In 1986, Koffi formed his band known as Quartier Latin, which celebrated its 20-year anniversary in 2006. Since then, he has performed and recorded both with the group and by himself. Over the years, he has built up a faithful fan base Internationally, particularly in Africa and Europe. Koffi popularized the slower style of soukous, which he dubbed Tcha Tcho. Koffi's music can be quite controversial, taking on current events and topics considered taboo in some conservative societies. He has also participated in the salsa music project Africando. For his effort, Affaire D'Etat, released in 2003, Koffi received four Kora Awardson a single night at the annual Kora Awards in South Africa for 2002/2003, including the award for Best African Artist, which he had earlier won in 1998. More recently, he has won the Kora Award for "Best African Artist of The Decade". This led to the establishment of one of his many aliases as the 'Quadra Kora Man'. [4]
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                                        "Andrada" is arguably one of the greatest songs of Koffi Olomide
Olomide's album Haut de Gamme: Koweït, Rive Gauche is listed in 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. In March 2003 Olomide released "Affaire D'Etat", a double CD album featuring 18 tracks.
He has trained many young musicians some of whom have since left his Quartier Latin band and gone solo while a few are still sticking with him. Some of those who have left are Fele MudogoSam TshintuSuzuki 4x4Soleil WangaFally IpupaMontana Kamenga,Ferre Gola and are so far doing fairly well on their own. However "Suzuki 4x4" has recently showed up once more in some of Quartier Latin shows, along with new recruits like Cindy le Coeur, a female singer with very high pitched vocals.
Koffi, who mostly refers to himself as Mopao, has a brand new release known as La Chicotte a Papa, having recently excelled in hits likeCle BoaLovemycineDiabolosGrand Pretre Mere and Soupou, among others. Mopao has also proven to be of such very high standards of talent which could easily be compared to the once king of African rhumba the late Luambo Makiadi, who equally saw many artistes pass through his expert hands during his days. Today, Mopao is the undisputed king of romantic rumba. Not only that, he is one of Africa's biggest musicians today.
                 Ever-strong Olomide
Koffi Olomide is reported to be very intelligent and wealthy. He is married and is the father of seven children: Nzau Twengi Aristote, Elvis, Minou Miss Univers, Didi Stone Nike, Rocky, Del pirlo Mourhino and Saint James Rolls. Olomide's father, who is currently in poor health, lives in ParisFrance. Olomide's mother lives in Kinshasa and works as a jewellery dealer in the Zando Market in the city. Koffi has an elder brother, Johnny Ko, who also lives in Paris. Also a younger brother Tutu Roba, who lives in LondonEngland.

5. KANDA BONGO MAN, THE KWASA KWASA MAN AND THE BEST SOUKOUS MASTER
      
Kanda Bongo Man become the singer for Orchestra Belle Mambo in 1973, developing a sound influenced by Tabu Ley. His solo career only started to take off after moving to Paris in 1979, where his music started to incorporate elements of then-vibrant zouk music (originating in the French West Indies). His first solo albums, "Iyole" in 1981 and "Djessy" in 1982, were hits.
He is most famous for the structural changes he implemented to soukous music. The previous approach was to sing several verses and have one guitar solo at the end of the song. Kanda Bongo Man revolutionized soukous by encouraging guitar solos after every verse and even sometimes at the beginning of the song. His form of soukous gave birth to the kwassa kwassa dance rhythm where the hips move back and forth while the hands move to follow the hips.
                 Kanda Bongo Man on stage doing his Kwasa kwasa Dance
Like many African rumba and soukous musicians before him, Kanda Bongo Man also had an entourage of musicians. Many of Kanda's musicians later moved on to start their own solo careers. Most notable of these was Diblo Dibala. Known as "Machine Gun", Diblo Dibala was a vital part of Kanda Bongo Man's lineup on several albums, including "Kwasa Kwasa" and "Amour Fou".
Kanda Bongo Man still tours in Europe and the United States. On July, 2005 he performed at the LIVE 8: Africa Calling concert in Cornwall.

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                               Kandfa Bongo Man`s "liza" Kwasa kwasa mania is arguably one of his 
                              best tracks just like 'Zing dong"
   

Kanda Bongo Man band From Congo Dem. Rep.

BC Radio 3 Stage
25 July 2010, WOMAD, Charlton Park, Malmesbury, Wiltshire, UK.

6.

SALIF KEITA

GOLDEN VOICE OF AFRICA, MALIAN GRIOT SINGING LEGEND  WHO CREATED AFROPOP SOUND AND DIRECT DESCENDANT OF FOUNDER OF MALI,SUNDIATA KEITA.


                             Salif Keita on guitar  

A direct descendant of Sundiata Keita, the founding father of the Mali Empire, Salif Keita was born in Mali in 1949 and has the congenital condition Albinism. As a white-skinned child growing up in a small West African village, despite his lineage, he was constantly under physical threat from the superstitious community, reliant on witchcraft folklore that deemed albinos inherently evil.




                 Singer Salif Keita holding a hand of an albino child in a concert in 
                 Ouagadougou,Burknia Faso (March 2011).


In addition to these difficulties, the young Keita defied his social standing by pursuing an interest in music – traditionally the role of a griot, or wandering musician. Subsequently, at the age of 18, he was rejected by his father and ostracised by his family.
After a period performing with African groups including Super Rail Band de Bamako and Les Ambassadeurs and gaining international recognition, Salif settled in Paris alongside many other prominent African musicians such as Manu Dibango and Tabu Ley Rochereau.
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                               "Africa" is one of the best songs of Salif Keita.



Drawing parallels with Nigerian born artist Sade, Salif Keita went on to carve out an exceptional solo career. Inspired by the powerful stage presence of successful black artists such as Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder and Tina Turner, Salif Keita introduced Western influences into his music such as European and American pop, whilst maintaining traditional Malian sound with instruments like the kora [lute-harp] and tabale [tall conga shaped drum].
ENDS




   Salif Keita say guitar is "my first, best wife. Women come and go. They're always asking where you are, and why? Whereas my guitar is always there, speaking to me in the same way." .
These are the great francophone African music legends who have used music and stage-craft to propel and sell the richness of our African culture,traditions and values to the world.
I shall post the part two of these heroes God willing!!

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