Tabu Ley Rochereau (born Tabu Ley) is one of Africa's most influential vocalists and one of its most prolific songwriters.
Since making his professional debut, in 1954, as a member of Joseph "Grand Kalle" Kabasele's band, African Jazz
, Rochereau has written more than two thousand songs. Together with his band, Orchestre Afrisa International, which he formed in 1970, Rochereau has continued to play a major role in the shift from Congolese, Cuban, and Caribbean rumba to faster-paced soukous. Describing the musical approach of Rochereau and Orchestre Afrisa International, Wired World.3: The Global Netcast (http://www.hotwired.lycos.com) wrote, the group's "high-octane soukous continues to move audiences all over the world by weaving together elements of Zairean folk music such as the lokole (log drum), the soul and drive of R&B, Latin syncopation, digital percussion and synthesizers, silken harmonies, and the crystalline guitar stylings of Tabu Ley's longtime collaborator Huit-Kilos Bimwela Nseka, into a sophisticatedly sensual, irresistibly danceable, true world music." While he received the honorary title of "Knight" from Seenegal, Rochereau was named Officer of the National Order by the Republic of Chad. A member of the Bayanzi people of Zaire (Democratic Republic of the Congo), Rochereau first attracted attention when he won a singing contest at the Kinshasa Stadium. Recruited to sing lead for Africa Jazz, he remained with the group until 1963 when he and guitarist Dr. Nico formed their own group, African Fiesta
. Two years later, Rochereau and Dr. Nico split over artistic differences with Rochereau forming African Fiesta National
also known as African Fiesta Flash. With Rochereau at the helm, the group became one of the most successful bands in African history, surpassing record sales of one million copies by 1970. Papa Wemba
and Sam Mangwana
were among the many influential African musicians that passed through the group. In the mid-'70s, African Fiesta National
evolved into the larger group, Orchestre Afrisa International. Rochereau emigrated to the United States in the early '90s. He continues to reside in Southern California. ~ Craig Harris, Rovi