Jules Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba is one of Africas most popular musicians and prominent in world music.
He was born in the South of Congo in the region of Kasai stream .
Papa Wemba was born to a hunter and a professional funeral singer .His mother was always dragging her son regularly to her job and this played a major role in forming and shaping his career . Nevertheless, his father opposed completely to his son becoming a musician and dreamt for him, a career of journalism or law.
In the fifties, the famous Congolese rumba dominated the continent. A half century later, the music did not lose anything of its youth amidst the many and radical facelifts.
Among its most inspired surgeons, Papa Wemba is a legend full of vivacity, humour, intelligence, talent, you name it.
His name’ Papa’ was conceived due to the fact that he was the eldest son in his family.
In 1966, his father disappeared. The young man did not waste one minute then to start his musical ambitions finally. He became a cantor at his church parish and forged himself a very high voice, that being one of the features of his style. At the end of the 60’s, he played and sang with different groups when the capital, became Kinshasa since the independence in 1960. As young man then, Papa Wemba was inspired deeply by this Anglo-Saxon song, Jules Presley.
In1969, he participated in the birth of one of the main Zairian groups of the 70’s, Zaïko Langa Langa. Success was immediate. Quickly, Papa Wemba became a star and dominated his group.
In 1975, his fame rose and he left Zaïko and started up his own entity, Isifi Lokolé. Isifi is the abbreviation of the institute of the ideological knowledge for the formation of the idols. Lokolé is the name of percussions of the region of the Kasaï. The following year, this group wass replaced by a new, Yoka Lokolé, but whose life span is as ephemeral.
Viva la Musica .
Papa Wemba finally created in 1977 Viva la Musica, a group of about fifteen musicians, that after multiple transformations, always exist twenty years later. At that moment, the young man was a star in the whole Zaire and beyond the streams that surround the country. His impact passed the setting of music from afar. In the outskirts of Kinshasa, extended on a whole parcel of dwelling, the singer recreated a village, “The village of Molokaï” of which he enthrones himself customary chief. Within the “village” he imposed a true fashion whose central element was the beret. It was a city with its own codes and its own rules.
Towards 1979, he sang some months in an orchestra Afrisa International of Tabu Ley other Zairian star, with which Papa Wemba already worked at the end of the 60’s. Then in 1980, he had a tour of Africa with his “Analengo” tube that sells itself to 60.000 copies. In the beginning of the 80’s, Papa Wemba’s travels to France became regular and in 1982 relocated to France. He was at one point rumoured to be dead.
The International Music experience
Close to thirty years of international tours with his orchestra Viva la musica and his music was heard worldwide. Papa Wemba is more than an ambassador. He meeting with big names of the world such as Peter Gabriel was unavoidable. He joined Real-world stamp in 1992, and came up with the album The Traveller. When his contract with Real-world ended, Papa Wemba was henceforth free to make the artistic choices that he wanted. This is when he released in 1999 the album “Mzee fulangenge”.
Papa Wemba tried himself with “Mzee” to introduce a new type of production that would permit to ally the taste of the Africans to the one of the Western. In 2001, Papa Wemba rushed a new challenge: to make an oriental American tour with his group mythical Viva la Musica, to come up with an album in the manner out of balance in which all tendencies of the Congolese music are allied to sounds salsa, R’NB.
Papa Wemba who has a project for the youth of his country, to know the musical framing of the young talents, returned more and more to Kinshasa. It is in this perspective that he organized in 1999 the festival “Fula ngenge” putting in evidence of the new talents around the artist. Pursuing this goal, Papa Wemba concentrated all his energy in 2002 to the stage of the Martyrs in Kinshasa owing more than 100.000 people.
Creator of a fashion and music, Papa Wemba participated extensively in to introduce the Afro pop in the western charts. But for him, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the youth, for more than thirty years follows step-by-step the tribulations of the sapper of the Kasaï.
Having digested the juridical-political imbroglio that was the subject of conversation, absent from the studios and rarer on stage since two years and half, Papa Wemba decided to recenter himself on what he knows best how to make also: his music. After more than thirty years of his career, this small pause was therefore the opportunity of a restoration: the new Papa Wemba was ready.
The Congolese star signed at a new stamp, Synchronies Music. Surrounded with a new team, Papa Wemba knew that he was at the height of his career. The new album was programmed for the 1st quarter of 2007. A work that reflects the different changes that are operated themselves at the artist following these last experiences that marked it deeply at the same time as they changed his vision of the world. The artist wanted to be more active, more anxious to come with the evolutions of the African society that are just before deep socioeconomic and cultural mutations. Part of the album was already written, and it was necessary to polish the sound.
In February 2006, the artist came back to the stage for a unique acoustic concert “New Morning”, it was prominent thus his return to the stage world. Accompanied by its international formation of which the faithful Patrick Bebey, Papa Wemba revisited the classics: Salakeba, Show me the way, Maria Valencia…
In the international ferries since June 8, 2006, the album “New Morning” cools the memory, at the same time as he has the temperature carried up!