Tabu Ley Rochereau
|Tabu Ley Rochereau|
|Birth name||Pascal Tabu|
13 November 1940|
Bagata, Belgian Congo
|Years active||1958 - present|
Tabu Ley Rochereau (born November 13, 1940) is a musician from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He is the leader of Orchestre Afrisa International and one of Africa's most influential vocalists and prolific songwriters. Along with guitarist Dr Nico Kasanda, Tabu Ley pioneered soukous; he internationalised his music by fusing elements of Congolese folk music with Cuban, Caribbean, and Latin American rumba.
Tabu Ley was born in Bandundu, Democratic Republic of the Congo, as Pascal Tabu. In 1954, at the age of fourteen, he wrote his first song Bessama Muchacha which he recorded with Joseph "Le Grand Kallé" Kabasele's band, African Jazz. After finishing high school he joined the band as a full time musician. Tabu Ley sang the pan-African hit Independence cha cha which was composed by Grand Kalle when Congo was declared an independent nation in 1960, propelling him to instant fame. He remained with African Jazz until 1963 when he and Dr Nico Kasanda formed their own group, African Fiesta. Two years later, Tabu Ley and Dr. Nico split and Tabu Ley formed African Fiesta National, also known as African Fiesta Flash. The group became one of the most successful bands in African history, recording African classics like Afrika Mokili Mobimba, and surpassing record sales of one million copies by 1970. Papa Wemba and Sam Mangwana were among the many influential musicians that were part of the group.
In 1970 Tabu Ley formed Orchestre Afrisa International, Afrisa being a combination of Africa and Éditions Isa, his record label. Along with Franco Luambo's TPOK Jazz, Afrisa was now one of Africa's greatest bands. They recorded hits such as "Sorozo", "Kaful Mayay", "Aon Aon", and "Mose Konzo".
In the mid 1980s Tabu Ley discovered a young talented singer and dancer, M'bilia Bel, who helped popularise his band further. M'bilia Bel became the first female soukous singer to gain acclaim throughout Africa. Tabu Ley and M'bilia Bel later married and had one child together. In 1988 Tabu Ley introduced another female vocalist known as Faya Tess, and M'bilia Bel left and continued to be successful on her own. After M'bilia Bel's departure Afrisa's influence along with that of their rivals TPOK Jazz continued to wane as fans gravitated toward the faster version of soukous.
In 1985, the Government of Kenya banned all foreign music from the National Radio service. After Tabu Ley composed the song "Twende Nairobi" ("Let's go to Nairobi"), sung by M'bilia Bel, in praise of Kenyan president Daniel arap Moi, the ban was promptly lifted.
In the early 1990s he briefly settled in Southern California. He began to tailor his music towards an International audience by including more English lyrics and by increasing more international dance styles such as Samba. He found success with the release of albums such as Muzina, Exil Ley, Africa worldwide and Babeti soukous.
In 1996, Tabu Ley participated in the album Gombo Salsa by the salsa music project Africando. The song "Paquita" from that album is a remake of a song that he recorded in the late 1960s with African Fiesta.
When President Mobutu Sese Seko was deposed in 1997, Tabu Ley returned to Kinshasa and took up a position as a cabinet minister in the government of new President Laurent Kabila. Following Kabila's death, Tabu Ley then joined the appointed transitional parliament created by Joseph Kabila, until it was dissolved following the establishment of the inclusive transitional institutions.
In November 2005, Tabu Ley was appointed Vice-Governor in charge of political, administrative, and socio-cultural questions, for the city of Kinshasa, a position devolved to his party, the Congolese Rally for Democracy by the 2002 peace agreements.
He recuperated in Belgium after suffering a stroke.
- Stewart, p. 172
- Gary Stewart (2000). Rumba on the River: A History of the Popular Music of the Two Congos. Verso. ISBN 978-1859843680.
- Tabu Ley at kenyapage.net
- Rumba on the River
- MusicWeb Encyclopaedia of Popular Music
- Discography at mp3.com
- Tabu Ley biography and discography at World Music Central