Tabu Ley Rochereau biography
Tabu Ley Rochereau (Pascal Tabu, Bandundu, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 1940) is bandleader 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, the music that has delighted Africans for four decades. He internationalized his music by fusing elements of Congolese folk music with Cuban, Caribbean and Latin American rhumba.
In 1954 at the age of fourteen, Tabu Ley 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 African 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 band. They recorded hits such as Sorozo, Kaful Mayay, Aon Aon and Mose Konzo.
In the mid 1980s Tabu Ley discovered a young talented singer and dancer, M'bilia Bel, who helped popularise his band further. M'bilia Bel became the first female soukous singer to gain acclamation throughout Africa. Tabu Ley and M'bilia Bel later got married and had one child together. In 1988 Tabu Ley introduced another female vocalist known as Faya Tess, and M'bilia Bel left and continued to be successful on her own. After M'bilia Bel's departure Afrisa's influence along with that of their rivals TPOK Jazz continued to wane as fans gravitated toward the faster version of Soukous.
In the early 1990s he briefly settled in Southern California. He began to tailor his music towards an International audience by including more English lyrics and by increasing more international dance styles such as Samba. He found success with the release of albums such as Muzina, Exil Ley, Africa worldwide and Babeti soukous.
In 1996, Tabu Ley participated in the album Gombo Salsa by the salsa music project Africando. The song "Paquita" from that album is a remake of a number he sung in the late 1960s with African Fiesta.
When President Mobutu Sese Seko was dethroned in the late 90s, Tabu Ley returned to Kinshasa and took up a position as a cabinet minister in the government of new President Laurent Kabila. Following Kabila's death, Tabu Ley is still continuing in the same capacity under new President Joseph Kabila.