Barbara Kanam

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Barbara Kanam
Birth nameBarbara Kanam
Also known asAfrican Diva Barbara Kanam
Born (1973-09-27) September 27, 1973 (age 45)
OriginBukavu, Zaïre
GenresHighlife, soukous, Congolese rumba
Occupation(s)Singer-songwriter, record producer, actress, dancer
InstrumentsGuitar, vocals
Years active1991–present
LabelsKanam Music
Associated actsAwilo Longomba, Devotion, Edgar Yonkeu, Fally Ipupa, Francky, Jacob Desvarieux, Kiki Touré, Kone Dodo, Olivier Kimanga
WebsiteBarbara Kanam Official Myspace Page

Barbara Kanam (born September 27, 1973) is an award-winning Congolese singer-songwriter, music producer and actress.

Early life and work[edit]

Kanam was born in Bukavu, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo).

In 1991 (the year she became involved in music) Kanam earned a Brevet de Technicien Supérieur ("Advanced Specialist") degree in international business.[1] She started to sing with and write music for an orchestra band called Devotion but also engaged in formal musical study. Kanam developed her vocal technique at the prestigious Psalmody Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa, and concurrently received guitar lessons. In 1994, after thirteen months of music lessons, Kanam created a musical arrangement for her first tour, the "Acoustic One Woman Show," which toured Central Africa.[citation needed]

In 1995, Kanam settled in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, where she experimented musically by joining a religious choir. She later joined a church ensemble called the "Grace Choir" in Cocody, Ivory Coast, as a regular singer. In 1997, Kanam resumed her studies in international business.[citation needed]

Recording artist[edit]

In 1998, Kanam released her first album, Mokili, with producer Kone Dodo, which popularized her in the African music genre, and earned her a Kora Award nomination.

In 2003, she released her second album, Teti, which gained international recognition. She then began touring across Africa and Europe, and earned the following awards:

In 2005, with producer Kiki Touré and producer-arranger Edgar Yonkeu, Kanam released a cover of the song "Bibi Madeleine L'argent" (translation: "Money attracts money"), which also featured her fiancé Awilo Longomba. This song was a huge success in Africa, the Caribbean and Europe—especially France. In 2005, she gained recognition at the Black Music Awards in Cotonou, Benin, for best female video.

Her career has included numerous collaborations with artists such as Jacob Desvarieux, and Edgar Yonkeu, with whom she produced African Dance Company in 2006. In 2006, Kanam accepted an invitation to appear on Fally Ipupa's album Droit Chemin in a song entitled 100% Love. Subsequently, Ipupa contributed to a song on Kanam's album entitled Noir et Blanc.

Kanam Music[edit]

On June 25, 2009, Kanam and Touré released a third album under the singer-songwriter's own music label, Kanam Music, entitled Karibu (meaning "Welcome" in Swahili). The album became a critical success, with journalists and broadcasters such as Claudy Siar and Yves Robert Brazza Kambala declaring it one of the best releases of 2009. Kanam became a "standard-bearer" for female African musicians.[3]

Later in 2009, the singer received recognition at a United Nations event held at the Sebroko Hotel in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire. Kanam delivered a message of peace over the United Nations radio broadcast airways.[4] [5]



  1. ^ Chale (6 November 2009). "Barbara Kanam - Museke African artistes". Museke. fie.nipa Cooperative. Retrieved 3 May 2012.
  2. ^ "2003 Kora All African Music Awards, Winners Announced". World Music Central. December 7, 2003. Retrieved July 7, 2011.
  3. ^ Abidjan TV Archived October 1, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ YouTube video of the broadcast
  5. ^ Official MySpace page, in French

External links[edit]