Farewell to a giant of African popular music
November 30, 2013 10:34 PM   Subscribe

The much-renowned and very influential singer, songwriter and bandleader Tabu Ley Rochereau, the legendary pioneer of soukous, has died. His music was characterized by his sweet, mellow voice, smoothly beautiful and quintessentially African vocal harmonies, and chiming, smooth-as-silk interwoven guitar melodies. Not to mention a steady, infectious beat that kept people moving on dance floors all across Africa for the past five decades. Here is but a small sampling, spanning from his very fruitful, prolific musical career: Mokolo Nakokufa, Muzina, Kaful Mayay, Bania Irene, Mongali... and since the man is said to have written as many as 3000 songs, there's plenty more out there to discover. RIP Tabu Ley Rochereau.
posted by flapjax at midnite (20 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
Aw man.

posted by mykescipark at 10:36 PM on November 30, 2013


Can someone suggest sources for coverage of various styles of popular music around the continent? I hate to keep finding out about new-to-me music only after someone dies.
posted by Nomyte at 10:40 PM on November 30, 2013 [3 favorites]

Nomyte: Afropop Worldwide.
posted by mykescipark at 10:48 PM on November 30, 2013

posted by quazichimp at 10:53 PM on November 30, 2013


Not really familiar with his work, but I have a well-played album by his guitarist Dr Nico Kasanda. Lovely stuff.
posted by misterbee at 11:13 PM on November 30, 2013

What terrible news. He brought such wonderful music into this world.
posted by vverse23 at 11:20 PM on November 30, 2013

posted by El Brendano at 3:17 AM on December 1, 2013

Oh my goodness! I have an album by him from Peter Gabriel's Real World label, Babeti Soukous. Live recording, so full of life and joy...

I'm deeply sad to hear he is gone. I didn't know much about him, but I have loved this one CD for over 2 decades now.

posted by hippybear at 3:47 AM on December 1, 2013

Two more nice sources for great music from Africa: World Passport and Voodoo Funk.
posted by twsf at 4:05 AM on December 1, 2013

Heartbroken. So many greats of Congolese music are gone now.

I've been a fan for years. Got to see him perform in the mid-90s. He was doing two shows that night. I had tickets to the first and it was great. They let us stay for the second show and it was an incredibly fun and joyous experience. Even my housemate who was pathologically afraid of dancing in public was out on the floor.

posted by williampratt at 6:24 AM on December 1, 2013

posted by williampratt at 7:05 AM on December 1, 2013

Here he is performing with Congolese guitar hero Franco. (Audio-only, unfortunately.) This (Omona Wapi) is a fantastic album.
posted by Mothlight at 7:18 AM on December 1, 2013

Such joyous music from such a tortured nation.

posted by tommyD at 7:19 AM on December 1, 2013

> Aw man.

That was my reaction exactly. What a great musician he was, and how happy his music has made me.

> This (Omona Wapi) is a fantastic album.

And that is exactly what I was going to recommend. Get that album; you won't be disappointed.
posted by languagehat at 8:09 AM on December 1, 2013

I've never heard this musician before and love the linked samples. Here's MP3 albums for sale on Amazon, it looks like Voice of Lightness is a reasonable place to start for a greatest-hits kind of thing.
posted by Nelson at 9:03 AM on December 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

When I told my brother the bad news, he pointed out that iTunes has Omona Wapi for $3.96. Even though I love my ancient LP, I took that deal—I never listen to LPs any more, and come on: under $4 for such great music? I recommend this purchase to others.
posted by languagehat at 10:32 AM on December 1, 2013

And those Voice Of Lightness collections in Nelson's link are fantastic—I have them on CDs, which I do listen to.
posted by languagehat at 10:33 AM on December 1, 2013

Gentle touch, nice tone. If anyone is going to get you into African rhumba it is Tabu Ley.

posted by asok at 1:33 PM on December 1, 2013

posted by klausness at 2:32 PM on December 1, 2013

And if you want to go a little deeper into the scene, please please please get the first volume of Syllart's peerless African Pearls series, Rumba on the River.
posted by mykescipark at 10:17 PM on December 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

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