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Republic of Congo

Country Overview
The popular music of Congo has often been in the shadow of neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly Zaire. The development of modern music in Congo-Brazzaville cannot be seen separately from that in Kinshasa, but of course music in Congo-Brazzaville has its distinct origins, traditions and its own exponents in the forms of local artists with their talents, aspirations and achievements.

• The early days of modern Congolese music
Among the pioneers of modern music in Brazzaville is Antoine Moundanda (1928-2012) who played the likembe but he used it for the very first time in a band. Paul Kamba is seen as the pioneer in Congolese rumba in Brazzaville with his ensemble Victoria Brazza. Several bands popped up, such as Melo-Congo (with Emmanuel Dadet), Negro Jazz (with Essous, Nino Malapet, Joseph Kaba and Edo Ganga), and Orchestre les Bantous that was created at the eve of independence in 1959.

• Crossing the river
Brazzaville has had its share in laying down the foundations for a modern music industry in both capitals. Frequent contacts and visits from and to twin city Kinshasa (located just across the Congo River) led to musical cross inspiration. Various artists from Kinshasa, such as le Grand maître Franco or Tabu Ley have occasionally recorded in Brazzaville. Many Congolese (Brazzaville) artists have worked and recorded in Kinshasa. Members of Negro Jazz formed Rock A Mambo across the river before returning to Brazzaville for Les Bantous.

• Successes
Brazzaville has known a number of bands, but Les Bantous were the most famous and the most influential. After a successful song bearing the same title, the band adopted the name Les Bantous de la Capitale and they recorded numerous albums. The band still exists, although the composition has changed.
The 1960s also brought about Ry-Co Jazz, Franklin Boukaka who joined Orchestre Cercul (or Cercul Jazz).
During the 1970s and 1980s, there was the success of Tchico Tchicaya, the fusion of Mbamina, and the 1990s brought about Extra Musica who were successful throughout Africa. Extra Musica split off into various new groups, and competing new bands such as Patrouille des Stars appeared.

Other well-known artists from Congo-Brazzaville are Youlou Mabiala, Pierre Belkos, Pamelo Mounk'a, Pierre and Kosmos Moutouari, Theo Blaise Kounkou, Guy Guy Fall, Ballou Canta and Aurlus Mabele, to name but a few active in Congolese rumba and soukous music. More involved in traditionally inspired music are Les Tambours de Brazza, Lang'i, and Simbou Vili.

Congo flag Official name:
République du Congo

map Congo
Central Africa
Capital: Brazzaville

Official language: French

Recognised languages:
Kikongo, Lingala

Main ethnic groups:
Kongo, Sangha, M'Bochi, Teke

Flags courtesy of ITA's Flags of All Countries used with permission.

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Congolese Artist Pages
Useful links on Congolese Artists
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