Papa Wemba

Papa Wemba (Wikimedia Commomns, Radio Okapi, CC-BY-2.0)On 24 April 2016, Congolese singer and musician Jules Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba, known professionally as Papa Wemba died at the age of 66 after collapsing on stage in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, during the FEMUA urban music festival. Dubbed the 'King of Rumba Rock', he was one of the most popular musicians of his time in Africa and played an important role in world music. He was also a fashion icon who popularized the Sape look and style through his musical group Viva la Musica, with whom he performed on stages throughout the world.

Papa Wemba was born on June 14, 1949, in the Kasai region of what was then the Belgian Congo. His family moved to the capital Léopoldville (now Kinshasa). In his youth, he sang in the choir of a local Roman Catholic church.

Papa Wemba's road to fame and prominence began when he joined the music group Zaiko Langa Langa in the late 1960s. This was followed by his success as a founding member both of Isifi Lokole and then Yoka Lokole, along with a short stint as a member of Afrisa International for a few months. During these early stages of his career, he was establishing a style that included traditional Congolese rumba and soukous, infused with traditional African sounds, Caribbean rhythms, rock and soul. But Wemba gained international success and status with his band Viva La Musica, especially after he took them to Paris, France in the early 1980s. It was there that Wemba was able to achieve more of an "eclectic sound" in his work, influenced by western popular music that reflected a European flavor and style, referred to as 'Europop'.

 Papa Wemba got some attention as a movie actor, primarily because he played the male lead role in a very successful Zairean film La Vie est Belle (Life is Beautiful) [1987] by Belgian director Benoît Lamy and Congolese producer-director Ngangura Mweze.

He is also known for having pleaded guilty in 2004 to his role in a scheme to smuggle dozens of Africans - billed as his band or road crew members - into Europe.

(Source: Wikpedia)

Selected publications 

Sapeurs : ladies and gentlemen of the Congo / Tariq Zaidi. - Heidelberg : Kehrer Verlag, [2020]

Papa Wemba : an african music icon, from generation to generation / Didier Bokelo Bile. - Paris : L'Harmattan, [2019]

Papa Wemba : la voix de la musique congolaise moderne : contribution et odyssée / Anicet Etou Nianga. Paris : L'Harmattan, cop. 2014

Papa Wemba: Retour d’une grande voix / François Bensignor.
In: Hommes & migrations, 2010 (1286-1287), p.296-301

The importance of being elegant / George Amponsah, Cosima Spender. - [S.l. : s.n.], 2004

Congolese rumba and other cosmopolitanisms / Bob W. White.
In: Cahiers d'études africaines , vol. 42, cah. 168, 2002, p. 663-686

La vie est belle = Life is rosy / Ngangura, Mweze; Benoit Lamy; Papa Wemba. - New York, NY : Kino Video, 1987

See also Papa Wemba on muziekweb.

Papa Wemba Lecture (RBMA Paris 2015) | Red Bull Music Academy

Timeline of Democratic Republic of the Congo musicians via DBpedia and Wikidata