Awilo Longomba

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Awilo Longomba
Birth nameLouis Albert William Longomba
Born (1962-05-05) 5 May 1962 (age 62)
Kinshasa, Republic of the Congo
(modern-day Democratic Republic of the Congo)
GenresTechno-soukous[1] and ndombolo
  • Singer
  • dancer
  • composer
  • songwriter
  • record producer
  • drummer
  • media personality
Years active1980s—present

Louis Albert William Longomba[2][3][4][5] (born May 5, 1962), known professionally as Awilo Longomba, is a Congolese soukous singer, composer, drummer, songwriter, dancer, and producer.[6][7][8] The third son of Vicky Longomba and maternal uncle of French player Claude Makélélé, William is known for his avant-garde "techno-soukous"[9][10][11][7] and performances.[5][12][13][14]

Between 1980 and 1995, William made his music debut as a drummer for Viva La Musica, Stukas, Nouvelle Génération, and Loketo.[15][6][16][17] He rose to fame in 1995 with the release of his debut solo studio album Moto Pamba, which catapulted him to stardom in Africa and Europe.[18][6][19][20] Moto Pamba won him two consecutive Best Artist of Central Africa at the 1996 and 1997 Kora Awards.[21] In 1998, William unveiled his second studio album, Coupé Bibamba. The album's eponymous single, which featured Martinican singer Jocelyne Béroard, became a chart-topper in Africa and gained a considerable following in Europe and America. It is often often regarded as one of Africa's most acclaimed Lingala songs.[21][10][22][23][24] William became the first artist to sold-out the Lagos National Stadium for three consecutive days.[25] The song was later featured in the "World Tribute to the Funk" compilation by Sony Music, featuring a new funk remix version with James D-Train Williams.[6][26]

William is the first Congolese artist to have performed in São Tomé and Príncipe, as well as the only Sub-Saharan African, along with Miriam Makeba, to have performed in Libya during the creation of the African Union.[26][27][28] His third studio album Kafou Kafou, debuted in July 2000, later won him the Judges' Special Awards at the 2001 Kora Awards for his contribution to African music.[7][15] In 2009, William clinched the accolade of Best Soukous Entertainer at the IRAWMA Awards.[29] In September 2003, he issued his fourth studio album, Mondongo.[30] In August 2008, he published his fifth studio album, Superman.[31] William is one of Africa and Europe's "most wanted" Congolese artists.[32][6][33]

Early life and career[edit]

1962–1994: Childhood, education and music debut[edit]

Vicky Longomba, the father of Awilo Longomba, was a founding member and lead vocalist of Tout Puissant OK Jazz.

Awilo Longomba was born as Louis Albert William Longomba on May 5, 1962, in Kinshasa (formerly Léopoldville) to a Mongo father and a Ngombe mother from Équateur Province.[6][4][5] Longomba hailed from a well-known musical family: his father, Vicky Longomba, was the lead vocalist and founder of Tout Puissant OK Jazz.[34][35][36] He has six sisters and three brothers.[37][9][38][39] He is the uncle of the Kenyan-based music duo Lovy Longomba and the late Christian Longomba.[38][40]

As a child, Longomba spent every moment around music, frequently attending his father's rehearsals. His father, influenced by his views on contemporary musicians as dissolute figures, often clothed himself in sartorial splendor and ardently discouraged his son from pursuing a music career.[6] In an interview with the Daily Nation, Longomba mentioned, "My father inspired me but he never wanted me to get into music. Despite that, he was a loving father who ensured that all his children got a good education".[41] Logomba's passion for music burgeoned exponentially, leading him to abandon school and become a drummer for Papa Wemba's band Viva La Musica in 1985.[27][42][6][43]

Awilo Longomba (far left) photographed in one of Matonge's studios during his tenure with Viva La Musica as part of their 1986 Euro–Asia tour.

In 1986, as part of their EuroAsia tours, Longomba and Viva La Musica toured Matonge in Brussels to record their album Destin ya Moto at Gina Efonge's bar. There, his stature as an exceptional drummer within the group gained momentum.[6][44][45][41] In 1989, he permanently relocated to Paris and applied for his Carte de Séjour.[46] During his residency in Paris, Longomba encountered prejudiced attitudes towards Afro-French and became increasingly resentful of the emergence of Jean-Marie Le Pen's movement, which accentuated the pervasiveness of racism in France, particularly within political factions like the National Front.[46] Though not as high-profile as Ray Lema, he had assimilated into Parisian life and had formed a personal attachment to the city.[46]

In 1992, Longomba parted ways with Viva La Musica and founded his ensemble, La Nouvelle Génération, of which he became the bandleader, accompanied by members Luciana de Mingongo, Lidjo Kwempa, Fataki Ndoko José, Maray Maray, Maestro Fanfan, and Fafa de Molokaï. The newly established group swiftly garnered acclaim in Africa and produced several albums. He collaborated on numerous records in France and toured globally with prominent African artists.[47][48][49][50] He became a French citizen in 1994, having married a French woman.[46]

1995–1998: Moto Pamba and Serena Hotel concert[edit]

In 1995, Longomba departed from La Nouvelle Génération and went on to unveil his debut solo studio album, titled Moto Pamba, with support from Shimita, Ballou Canta, Dindo Yogo, Dally Kimoko, Sam Mangwana, Syran Mbenza, and Rigo Star. He served as the album's composer, lead singer, and drummer.[51][6] In an interview with La Prospérité, Longomba revealed that during Moto Pamba's production, the director urged him to perform not as a drummer, but as a singer.[50] He also briefed the press that everyone was astonished to hear his voice when the record came out.[50] Despite the album's success, he continued to work as a drummer for various artists, including Gabonese singer Oliver N'Goma.[27]

During a performance at the Serena Hotel in Kampala that same year, where he accompanied Oliver N'Goma, Longomba chose to perform incognito in the first show and adopt the pseudonym "Willy" to avoid stealing N'Goma's spotlight.[27] However, he eventually revealed his identity during the second show and received an enthusiastic response from the audience. The Seychelles Nation even noted that his presence compelled "Oliver N'Goma to take the risk of presenting it."[27] The concert provided an opportunity to promote Moto-Pamba.[27] In 1996, Longomba further promoted the album through a live performance at Parc de la Villette in Paris and subsequently won the Best Artist of Central Africa at the first edition of the Kora Awards.[26][51][6] He received the same accolade on October 1, 1997.[52]

1998–2000: Continent-wide success with "Coupé Bibamba"[edit]

In 1998, Longomba released his second studio album, titled Coupé Bibamba. The album was supported by a number of popular singles, including "Gaté Le Coin", "Mobimba Ya Mama", "Coupé Bibamba", "Manon", "Porokondo", "Sans Papier", "J'en Ai Marre", "Fifi", "J'en Ai Marre", and "Gâté Le Coin [Bonus Mix]".[21][15][53] It also included backing and leading vocals by Jocelyne Béroard, Guy-Guy Fall, Tutu Callugi, Abby Surya, Awa Maïga, Lidjo Kwempa, Marilyn Komba, Patricia Aubou, and Alain Mpéla Yoka.[53][51]

The album's eponymous ndombolo-infused-single, which featured Jocelyne Béroard, became a massive hit in Africa and Europe, as well as among diaspora communities worldwide, and remains a timeless classic in African music.[21][54][51] The song addresses the issue of poverty in Africa.[41] In an interview with the Daily Nation, Longomba expressed that in his song "Coupé Bibamba," he urges young people to pursue education, attend church, and have faith in themselves to combat poverty in Africa.[41][25] The incorporation of mabanga, a practice where musicians mention an individual's name during a song for a fee, was notable, with the mention directed at Robert Ogwal, also known as Rasta Rob, a prominent radio presenter in the African Great Lakes Region at the time.[5][55] The song's widespread appeal led to interpretations in various native languages, including Yoruba and Nigerian Pidgin.[26][56] The album's success elevated Longomba's visibility, leading to three consecutive sold-out concerts at Lagos National Stadium and establishing him as the first Congolese artist to dominate Nigerian airwaves.[54][57][25][58] Longomba's collaboration with Sony Music for a funk remix of "Coupé Bibamba," featuring James D-Train Williams, gained traction in France and the US and was included in the African Dance Floor compilation. This led to Longomba's performance at Zénith de Paris alongside Jocelyn Lorette Brown, Oliver Cheatham, Jerome Prister, Imagination and Anita Ward, all of whom were part of the compilation.[6][59][60][61]

2000–2008: Kafou Kafou, Mondongo and performances[edit]

In July 2000, Longomba released his third studio album, Kafou Kafou. Consisting of 10 tracks, Kafou Kafou was produced by Jip Productions.[16][62][63] It later earned him the Jury Special Award at the 2001 Kora Awards, which he offered to Nelson Mandela at Sun City.[62][64][7] In an interview with Foster Romanus of the Late Nite Celebrity Show, he expressed that having Mandela in attendance was a significant honor, due to his profound respect for Mandela's influential contributions to Africa.[65]

In September 2003, Longomba debuted his fourth studio album, Mondongo, which included hit singles like "Karolina", "Zumbeya", "Mupenzi", "Pinzoli", "Gladys", "Kayembe", "Mondongo", "Champion", "Mia Muliere", and "Dance Floor".[30] Mondongo was a blend of Congolese rumba, soukous, R&B, and Kompa.[66][67][6] It achieved widespread acclaim in Africa and sold over 30,000 copies in France.[68] The album's lead single, "Karolina", became a staple at hall parties and is often cited as the most-played song at African events. In the song, Longomba expresses his admiration for his muse, Karolina, praising her beauty from every perspective — from head to toe, front, and back.[15][27][69] To support Mondongo, Longomba embarked on a tour in Cameroon, with performances scheduled at Cinéma Le Wouri, Stade Mbappé Léppé, Cinéma Abbia, and Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium.[30][70] In November of that year, Longomba received a nomination for "Karolina" at the 2004 Kora Awards.[71]

In March 2005, Longomba took the stage at the Africa Live 2005 concert, a malaria-fighting event hosted at the Iba-Mar-Diop Stadium, where he performed in front of 40,000 people with other co-performers included Youssou N'Dour, Orchestra Baobab, Tinariwen, Didier Awadi, Corneille, Salif Keita, Rokia Traoré, Manu Dibango, and Seun Kuti.[72] The event was organized by Youssou N'Dour as part of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RBM), an initiative launched in 1998 by the World Health Organization, United Nations Development Programme, UNICEF, and the World Bank.[72]

To promote Mondongo further, Longomba embarked on a continent-wide tour, performing in various cities like Libreville as part of the Amissa Bongo Foundation and Iriscom International's second edition of the Nuit de la Musique.[73] He also performed at the 2006 edition of the Sumbe International Music Festival called "FestiSumbe" in Sumbe, Angola.[74] In 2007, Longomba held two consecutive sold-out concerts at the Hotel Ivoire in Cocody and the Yopougon Sports Complex in Yopougon.[75][76] He followed this up with a Labor Day concert in Antananarivo in 2008, where he was joined by about twenty other artists.[77][78][79]

2008–present: Superman, performances and collaborations[edit]

In August 2008, Longomba published his fifth studio album Superman, which contained standout tracks like "Super Man", "Torticolis", "Les Jaloux", "Malala", "Maze", "Meu Amor", "Banana", "La Go Là", "Baby", "J'Ai Envie de Toi", "BK", and "Banana Remix".[31][80][81] Barbara Kanam also made a guest appearance on Superman.[66] He subsequently took the stage at Zénith de Paris on December 27, 2009, to promote Superman.[82] He later appeared in Antananarivo to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Malagasy Independence on June 26, 2010.[83]

On May 5, 2014, in celebration of his birthday, Longomba debuted an audio preview of his new single, "Bundele," which was co-produced by London-based BA Nusance and Nigerian producer TeeBeeO.[84] Prior to the premiere of the "Bundele" music video on July 29, 2014, Longomba collaborated with the Nigerian duo P-Square on the track "Enemy Solo."[7][85] He then made a guest appearance on Nathalie Makoma's single "Eyi Mabe."[86] On January 23, 2017, he premiered the single "Rihanna," featuring Yemi Alade,[87][88] followed by the Afrobeat-infused single "Esopi Yo," which included a guest appearance by Tiwa Savage.[89] On December 25, 2018, Longomba was featured on BM's remix of "Rosalina," which sparked a global dance trend on social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook, with professional and amateur dancers showcasing their best moves.[90][91][92][93][94] In early April 2019, Longomba performed in Kampala, where he brought Robinio Mundibu on stage, providing Mundibu a platform to promote his Extended Play (EP) Chiffre 9.[95] He then unveiled the music video of his Congolese rumba and Afrobeats-inspired single "Canon" on April 15, which was directed by Ace Video director Moe Musa.[96] On April 23, 2021, Longomba was featured on Harmonize's single "Attitude," which rapidly amassed three million YouTube views in 24 hours.[97][98] He then appeared on Angel Mary Kato's single "Tanzania," a fusion of Bongo Flava and soukous.[99]

On October 29, 2022, Longomba performed at the Fally Ipupa concert at the Stade des Martyrs de la Pentecôte.[100] In November 2022, Longomba collaborated with Werrason, Reddy Amisi, Rebo Tchulo, Jeannot Bombenga, Héritier Watanabe, M'bilia Bel, Sista Becky, Poison Mobutu and Samarino on "Allons Tous Nous Faire Enrôler", a song created for CENI's campaign to raise awareness among the population about the identification and enrollment operation for the 2023 Democratic Republic of the Congo general election.[101][102] On December 31, 2022, Longomba guest-performed on Inoss'B's Afrocongo-style single "Maboko Milayi," which garnered two million views on YouTube within 13 days.[103][104][105] In March 2023, Longomba was appointed as a coach for the first season of The Voice Africa, a show tailored for the English-speaking African audience, contrasting with The Voice Afrique Francophone.[106] He later joined Innoss'B on stage during the "Umoja" humanitarian concert at the La Madeleine concert hall in Brussels in December of that year, performing alongside Yemi Alade and Rebo Tchulo.[107]


Longomba is among the most sought-after Congolese artists in Africa and Europe.[16] Jide Taiwo, writing for Nigerian Entertainment Today, opined that Longomba "inspired a new crop of Nigerian entertainers who made several spoofs of his songs and thus began their own careers".[54] Longomba's musical style has notably influenced several Nigerian musicians, including Funmi Adams, known for her song "Yaro" performed in Hausa in the late 1980s, and Julius Agwu, whose tracks such as "Okombo," "Chop Bisikit," "Bendown Sellect," and "I Buy Kwilikwili" all draw from Longomba's musical style.[108] Nigerian singer-songwriter Burna Boy credited Longomba as a significant source of inspiration during his formative years in a guest appearance on Clique TV.[109]

In February 2023, Nigerian singer Ayra Starr released "Sability," a techno-soukous-inspired single that sampled Longomba's "Coupé Bibamba."[21][110] This release garnered praise from Tanzanian singer Harmonize, who commended the song's homage to Longomba, expressing admiration for his musical impact and stating, "I want to be like Awilo Longomba."[111]



  • Moto Pamba (1995)
  • Coupe Bibamba (1999)
  • Kafou Kafou (2001)
  • Mondongo (2003)
  • Super-Man (2008)

Famous songs[edit]

  • "Coupé Bibamba" (featuring Jocelyne Béroard)
  • "Karolina"
  • "Champion"
  • "Mondongo"
  • "Fidele"

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Event Prize Recipient Result Ref.
1996 Kora Awards Best Artist of Central Africa Himself Won [21]
1997 Kora Awards Best Artist of Central Africa Himself Won [52][10]
2001 Kora Awards Jury Special Award Himself Won [112]
2009 IRAWMA Awards Best Soukous Entertainer Himself Won [29]
2019 AFRIMA Legend Award Himself Won [113]


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