Papa-Wemba - Official Web Site - Bienvenue

VERSION FRANCAISE
Papa Wemba est né le 14 juin 1949 à Lubefu dans le Sankuru, province du Kasaï-oriental, en République démocratique du Congo. Il bat le record de la longévité en matière de succès musical. L'enfant est nommé « Papa » parce qu'il est le fils aîné de sa mère. Alors que Papa est encore un bébé, la famille s'installe à Léopoldville, capitale du pays, alors colonie belge. Son père, ancien soldat qui a combattu dans l'armée belge pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale, est devenu chasseur et part souvent en forêt. Sa mère est pleureuse professionnelle, élément traditionnel essentiel de toutes soirées funéraires ou veillées mortuaires. En entraînant régulièrement son fils avec elle, elle l'initie à la musique et au chant, ce qui très tôt passionne l'enfant. Néanmoins, son père est totalement opposé à ce que son fils devienne musicien et rêve pour lui d'une carrière de journaliste ou d'avocat. En 1966, disparaît le père de Papa Wemba. Dès l'enfance, il cultive une voix ténor particulière et devient chanteur en suivant les traces de sa mère, une pleureuse professionnelle. Au milieu des années 1960, il est élève à l'École Pigier à Kinshasa et fait de la chorale religieuse, en dehors de l'école. Puis, après la mort de ses parents, il s'oriente vers la musique populaire kinoise dans son quartier de Matonge, le berceau de la musique congolaise, et prend le pseudonyme de « Jules Presley ».

Les débuts chez Zaïko Langa Langa
En décembre 1969 à Kinshasa, avec Jossart N'yoka Longo, Félix Manuaku Waku (Pépé Felly), Evoloko, Mavuela Siméon et d’autres jeunes musiciens, il participe à la naissance de Zaïko Langa Langa, un des groupes les plus populaires au Zaïre (aujourd'hui RD Congo) et en Afrique des années 1970 à 1990. Au tout début des années 1970, le Zaïko Langa-Langa est un jeune groupe très innovateur, qui essaye de nouveaux trucs dans la rumba congolaise : la batterie et des rythmes plus accélérés font leur apparition au détriment des instruments à vent, qui sont délaissés. Le Zaiko Langa-Langa va atteindre le summum de sa gloire en 1974 avec des tubes à succès comme Mété La Vérité, Chouchouna (Papa Wemba), Eluzam, Mbeya Mbeya (Evoloko), Yo Nalinga, BP Ya Munu (Efonge Gina), (Mavuela). En décembre 1974, Papa Wemba quitte le Zaïko Langa-Langa et crée le Isifi Lokole avec Evoloko, Mavuela et Bozi Boziana. C'était l'époque de l'Authenticité Zaïroise et le Isifi Lokole ajouta, au rythme zaïko, le lokolé, un instrument africain à percussion. La chanson Amazone de Papa Wemba domine les hit-parades sur les rives du Congo en 1975. Puis, en novembre 1975, il quitte Evoloko et Isifi Lokole, et s'en va créer le Yoka Lokole avec Mavuela Somo et Bozi Boziana. L'attaque-chant de Yoka Lokole, qu'on appelle à l'époque « The Fania All-Stars », devient encore plus redoutable lorsque le bouillant Mashakado Mbuta les rejoint en mars 1976, après avoir claqué les portes de Zaïko Langa-Langa. Des chansons phares comme Matembelé Bangi (Papa Wemba), Maloba Bakoko (Mavuela) font la joie des mélomanes au Zaïre et en Afrique Centrale en 1976.

Création de son label Viva la Musica
Enfin, en février 1977, il crée son propre orchestre le Viva La Musica, un label qui va l'accompagner durant toute la suite de sa carrière. Il forme son nouveau groupe autour de jeunes talents comme les chanteurs Kisangani Espérant, Pépé Bipoli, Jadot le Cambodgien et Petit Aziza, Emeneya, les guitaristes Rigo Star, Bongo Wendé, Syriana et Pinos, le batteur Otis. Pour un coup d'essai, c'est un coup de maître; le succès est foudroyant avec des tubes comme "Mère Supérieure", Ebalé Mbongé "Mabele Mokonzi", "Bokulaka"", "Ekoti ya nzube. Les deux premières années de Viva la Musica, sont celles de la collaboration de Papa Wemba avec Koffi Olomidé, alors étudiant. Celui-ci écrit les paroles de certaines chansons de son ainé et s'initie au chant et la scène à ses côtés. Il enregistre également ces premières chansons sous le label Viva :"Princesse Ya Sinza", "Asso", "Samba Samba", "Anibo".Viva la Musica a vu à la fois les «défections» de musiciens tous les deux ou trois ans et le plat principal et l'émergence d'autres nouveaux talents. Fafa de Molokai, Debs Debaba, King Kester Emeneya (1977-1982), Koffi Olomide, en tant que chanteur, (1978-1979), Djuna Djanana (1978-1981), Dindo Yogo (1979-1981), Maray Maray-(1980 -84), Lidjo Kwempa (1982-2001), Reddy Amissi (1982-2001), Stino Mubi (1983-2001) Comme Fela qui avait fondé Kalakuta Republic, Papa Wemba créa en 1977 dans sa cour familiale de Matonge, à Kinshasa, Le Village de Molokaï : M-O-LO-KA-I: Masimanimba-Oshwe-LOkolama-KAnda-kanda-Inzia . Une sorte de copie d'un village africain, avec ses règles et ses codes, dont il s'intronisa lui-même symboliquement Chef Coutumier. Mais, sa démarche n'était pas politiquement comparable à celle de Fela au Nigeria car il n'a jamais fait de l'activisme politique contre le régime autoritaire de Mobutu. De 1979 à 1980, Papa Wemba intègre le groupe Afrisa International de Tabu Ley, son idole de toujours. Il s'agit d'une collaboration temporaire souhaitée par les deux artistes. Il participe à une tournée européenne de l'Afrisa et enregistre deux chansons avec son mentor : "Ngambo moke" et "Levres roses". Au début des années quatre-vingt, sa poularité atteint des sommets au Zaïre et au Congo-Brazzaville. Il devient alors une véritable icône pour la jeunesse sur les deux rives du fleuve Congo. Il est le principal leader du mouvement de la SAPE. Sur le plan musical, il enregistre alors certains de ses plus grands succès : "Signorina", "Analengo", "Mea Culpa", "Melina la parisienne", "Santa", "Matebu". C'est également la période des défections au sein de l'orchestre. Tour à tour, Rigo Star, Kisangani Espérant, Dindo Yogo, Djanana Djuna (père de Maître Gims), Emeneya, Bipoli, Debaba quittent Viva la Musica. Suite à ces départs, il enrôle de nouvelles têtes, Maray Maray, Reddy Amisi, Lidjo Kwempa, Awilo Longomba, etc. Vers la fin des années 1980, Papa Wemba s'installe en Europe, sort successivement les albums "L'Esclave", "Mfono Yami", "Le voyageur", "Foridoles", "Malimba", et arpente avec succès les échelons de la World music..

 

 

ENGLISH VERSION

Papa Wemba was born Jules Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba in 1949 in Lubefu (Sankuru District, Belgian Congo). He is a Congolese rumba (later known as soukous) musician, one of Africa's most popular musicians, and prominent in world music.

Zaiko Langa Langa
Papa Wemba was one of the very first musicians to join the influential Soukous band, Zaiko Langa Langa when it was created in December 1969 in Kinshasa along with such well known Congolese musicians as Nyoka Longo Jossart, Manuaku Pepe Felly, Evoloko Lay Lay, Bimi Ombale, Teddy Sukami, Zamuangana Enock, Mavuela Simeon, Clan Petrole and others. In a Congolese musical world dominated at the time by Franco Luambo and his remarkable band TPOK Jazz, Tabu Ley Rochereau's Afrisa, and by then-new musical groups such as Les Grands Maquisards, Le Trio Madjesi, and even younger bands such as Bella-Bella, Thu Zaina and Empire Bakuba, the young and talented Papa Wemba (then known as Jules Presley Shungu Wembadio) was one of the driving forces that, by 1973, made Zaiko Langa Langa one of the most-performing dominant Congolese groups, featuring such popular numbers as "Chouchouna" (Papa Wemba), "Eluzam" and " Mbeya Mbeya" (Evoloko Lay Lay), "BP ya Munu" (Efonge Gina), "Mwana Wabi" and "Mizou" (Bimi Ombale) and "Zania" (Mavuela Somo).

Isifi
In December 1974, at the pinnacle of their fame (and just a month after the Rumble in the Jungle between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in Kinshasa), Shungu Wembadio (Papa Wemba), along with Evoloko Lay Lay, Mavuela Somo and Bozi Boziana (who had joined Zaiko Langa Langa a year earlier), left Zaiko Langa Langa to establish their own musical ensemble Isifi Lokole, ISIFI being an acronym for "Institut du Savoir Ideologique pour la Formation des Idoles". Yet of course, not everything that Wemba claims in earnest can be taken as gospel. In July 1975, Shungu Wembadio officially adopted the soon-to-be-well-known worldwide artist name Papa Wemba, the addition of "Papa" (father) an allusion to what were in fact rather awesome family responsibilities as the first son in a family where both father and mother (Wemba's parents) had been deceased since the 1960s. The "feux d'artifice" (fireworks) that was Isifi Lokole would only last a year, with the single "Amazone" (Papa Wemba) as its biggest commercial "hit" record. In November 1975, Papa Wemba, Mavuela Somo and Bozi Boziana abandoned Evoloko Lay Lay and Isifi Lokole to create the group Yoka Lokole (also known as The Kinshasa's Wa Fania All-Stars, or Lokole Isifi, or simply Isifi), along with Mbuta Mashakado, another Zaiko Langa Langa "transfusion". Yoka Lokole enjoyed slightly less popular success than the original Isifi Lokole, but for a time still managed to remain at the top the African pop music wave with hit songs including "Matembele Bangui", "Lisuma ya Zazu" (Papa Wemba), "Mavuela Sala Keba", and "Bana Kin" (Mavuela Somo). Like Isifi Lokole, the electronic-instrument-driven Yoka Lokole (or The Kinshasa All-Stars) would not last much longer than a year, given the merger of so many big-name talents in the band's lineup. After a year of modest success, controversies within Yoka Lokole over money and prestige (complicated by Wemba's arrest and brief incarceration in Kinshasa Central prison in December 1976 for the "crime" of being suspected of having had physical intimacy with an influential army general's daughter) would lead Papa Wemba, then feeling diminished by peers and neglected by the public, to form his own group Viva la Musica in February 1977, after a very brief return to Isifi Lokole and Stukas Boys of Lita Bembo, where he played for a few weeks as a guest.

Viva la Musica
At his home in the Matonge neighborhood of Kinshasa, Papa Wemba structured Viva la Musica around young talented artists such as singers Kisangani Esperant, Jadot le Cambodgien, Pepe Bipoli and Petit Aziza, guitarists Rigo Star, Syriana, and Bongo Wende. A young man by the name of Antoine Agbepa (currently known as Koffi Olomide), whose friend were calling "Cheri O", was the unknown writer of most of the group's hit songs. The group had nearly instantaneous success with hit songs that included "Mere Superieure," "Mabele Mokonzi", "Bokulaka," "Princesse ya Sinza", and others. At the height of his success in 1977, Papa Wemba's family home, in Kanda-Kanda street, which had become a popular, some even said hallowed place for Matonge youths to gather "à la mode" (i.e., to be cool), was named the "Village Molokai," and Wemba assumed the exalted moniker "Chef Coutumier" (Chief) of the Village of Molokai. That village in the heart of Matonge, included the following streets, which firsts letters were used to form the acronym: M-O-LO-KA-I: Masimanimba-Oshwe-LOkolama-KAnda-kanda-Inzia. In those days people referred to Wemba as the "chief from the heartland (village)" to differentiate him from Kinshasa-born musical bigshots Mavuela Somo and Mashakado. However, years later Mavuela would say that their difficulties simply amounted to trivial foolishness over money, ambition and fame between some very young people (as at the time they all were). Since 1977, Viva la Musica has seen both the "defections" of musicians every two or three years and the entrée and emergence of other new talents. Fafa de Molokai, Debs Debaba, King Kester Emeneya (1977–82), Koffi Olomide, as a singer, (1978–79), Djuna Djanana (1978–81), Dindo Yogo (1979–1981), Maray-Maray (1980–84), Lidjo Kwempa (1982–2001), Reddy Amissi (1982–2001), Stino Mubi (1983–2001) are among the currently well-known Congolese musicians who have served at one time or another with Viva la Musica. An old Kinshasa anecdote says that a college student then-named Antoine Agbepa Koffi was such an impressive songwriter that one day in 1977 Papa Wemba exclaimed, "Ooh! l'homme idee" (Oh! the idea-man!), thereby on-the-spot renaming the impressive young singer-songwriter Koffi Olomide - and the name stuck. After the wave of African emigration to Europe in the 1990s, Wemba maintained one group in Kinshasa (called at times "Nouvelle Ecriture", "Nouvel Ecrita", and now again "Viva la Musica") and another one in Paris ("Nouvelle Generation," "La Cour des Grands," and now "Viva Tendance"). He has also consistently maintained a high profile in world music with such great hits as "L'Esclave" (1986), "Le Voyageur, Maria Valencia" (1992), "Foridoles, Dixieme Commandement" (1994), "Emotion" (1995), "Pole Position" (1996), "M’Zée Fula-Ngenge" (1999), "Bakala dia Kuba" (2001), and "Somo Trop" (2003). Wemba is also known as an actor. In 1987, he played the male lead role in the successful Zairean (Congolese) film La Vie est Belle by Belgian director Benoît Lamy and Congolese producer-director Ngangura Mweze. In 2012, he had a cameo role in the Belgian drama film Kinshasa Kids.

High and low times
On 18 February 2003, suspected of being involved in a network that has allegedly smuggled hundreds of illegal immigrants from the Democratic Republic of Congo (former Zaire) into Europe, Papa Wemba was arrested at his home in Paris. He was eventually found guilty at some level in June 2003 and spent three and a half months in prison, an experience that, on his release after a €30,000 bail was posted, he declared had had a profound psychological effect on him. The singer claimed to have undergone a spiritual conversion in jail and even recounted this episode on his album Somo Trop (released in October 2003). On the song "Numéro d'écrou", he recalled the day "God" paid a visit to his cell.

Cross-cultural influence
In 1979, Papa Wemba became the leader of the Sapeur (Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes d'Élégance or SAPE) which he promoted as a youth cult.
Wemba said: The Sapeur cult promoted high standards of personal cleanliness, hygiene and smart dress, to a whole generation of youth across Zaire. When I say well groomed, well shaven, well perfumed, it's a propriety that I am insisting on among the young. I don't care about their education, since education always comes first of all from the family.

Recently, Priyan Weerappuli, leader of the Sri Lankan group Pahan Silu, referred to Wemba as being among his greatest musical influences.