African Music Encyclopedia


Tabu Ley Rochereau


Tabu Ley Rochereau, born in 1940 in the Congo (now Zaire) of the Bayanzi people, is the preeminent African singer of the modern age of African Music. Throughout the past four decades Tabu Ley has played with some of the top African artists, such as Papa Wemba and Sam Mangwana.

Rochereau began his career in 1959 as a teenager in the Kinshasa music scene in Joseph "Grand Kalle" Kabasele's legendary African Jazz band. Almost four years later he split off to form African Fiesta with the legendary guitarist Dr. Nico. In 1965, and under the pressure of the fierce competition of the Kinshasa music scene, he split with Dr. Nico, forming African Fiesta National (also called African Fiesta Flash), with whom he wrote and recorded the great African classic, Afrika Mokili Mobimba.

The rhumba was king in Kinshasa at the time and Tabu Ley brought this sound to incredible refinement. In 1970, when the sale of his records went past a million, his musical efforts culminated in the appointment of the honorary title of Knight of Senegal. Soon after, the Republic of Chad honored him with the title Officer of the National Order. Tabu Ley's musical prowess transcended all political boundaries. Around this time Siegneur Rochereau began the band Afrisa International, with whom he continues to record and tour with today.

Tabu Ley Rochereau and Afrisa International tour with a large group of musicians and dancers. Siegneur Rochereau is now in his late 50s, and recently he's made his home in Southern California. Don't miss them when they come to your town!

Back to The African Music Encyclopedia: Music From Africa and the African Diaspora

Copyright © 1995-1998 Janet Planet