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Rochereau

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Tabu Ley Rochereau (born 1940) 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 “Grand Kalle” 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. 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”.

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