Lema first became involved in music playing church organ for five years. By the time he entered college, he was already playing keyboard in Kinshasa clubs for artists like Kalle, Abeti, M'pongo Love, and Tabu Ley.
He worked with the Ballet du Zaire and from 1974 to 1978 toured the country studying folklore. He won a Rockefeller grant for study in the U.S. in 1979. Lema's grounding in folklore and choreography, as well as music, helped him break through in the '80s and maintain a reputation as a soukous musician not content to be pigeonholed in that style. He recently signed with the international label Mango. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi