|Kanda Bongo Man|
January 1, 1955|
Inongo, Belgian Congo now Democratic Republic of Congo
|Genres||Soukous, kwassa kwassa music|
|Singer, musician, minister of culture|
Kanda Bongo Man was born in Inongo, Democratic Republic of the Congo. He became the singer for Orchestra Belle Mambo in 1973, developing a sound influenced by Tabu Ley. His solo career only started to take off after moving to Paris in 1979, where his music started to incorporate elements of then-vibrant zouk music popularized by Kassav (originating in the French West Indies). His first solo albums, "Iyole" in 1981 and "Djessy" in 1982, were hits.
He is known for the structural changes he implemented to soukous music. The previous approach was to sing several verses and have one guitar solo at the end of the song. Kanda Bongo Man revolutionized soukous by encouraging guitar solos after every verse and even sometimes at the beginning of the song. His form of soukous gave birth to the kwassa kwassa dance rhythm where the hips move back and forth while the hands move to follow the hips.
Like many African rumba and soukous musicians before him, Kanda Bongo Man also had an entourage of musicians. Many of Kanda's musicians later moved on to start their own solo careers. Most notable of these was Diblo Dibala. Known as "Machine Gun", Diblo Dibala was a vital part of Kanda Bongo Man's lineup on several albums, including "Kwasa Kwasa" and "Amour Fou".