Papa Wemba / June 14, 1949 - April 24, 2016

Congolese rumba/soukous superstar Papa Wemba (Shungu Wembadio before 1975) was "the King of Rumba Rock". A singer, musician, bandleader (indeed his entourage of hundreds ultimately got him into trouble--look it up for yourself) and fashion icon, he had a long and successful international career. He had several ensembles in his early career that blended Congolese folk sounds with Caribbean and pop music. He blew up worldwide in the early '80s with his afro-pop group Viva La Musica (a named inspired by seeing the Fania All-Stars in Kinshasa), which had young Koffi Olomide as a composer.

In '77 he started the Molokai commune and declared himself the chief. His music with Viva La Musica brought electronics into the sound, to go with the soukous, rumba, ndombolo, soul and Latin/Caribbean flavors. In '83 he toured with Peter Gabriel and continued to be a champion of both traditional African music and fusion forms. Papa did a couple of jail stints, one of which was for screwing the General's daughter. He did some acting to go along with a music career. He remained an extremely popular African artist til the day he died performing onstage in the Ivory Coast in 2016.

Older Post Newer Post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published