Music of the Republic of the Congo

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Congolese saxophonist Sam Talanis Samtal FAMILY 101.jpg
Congolese saxophonist Sam Talanis

The Republic of the Congo is an African nation with close musical ties to its neighbor, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Democratic Republic of the Congo's homegrown pop music, soukous, is popular across the border, and musicians from both countries have fluidly travelled throughout the region playing similarly styled music, including Nino Malapet and Jean Serge Essous. Brazzaville had a major music scene until unrest in the late 1990s, and produced popular bands like Bantous de la Capitale that played an integral role in the development of soukous and other styles of Congolese popular music . The Hip-Hop group "Bisso na Bisso" also hails from Congo-Brazzaville.


National music

The national anthem of the Republic of the Congo is La Congolaise. It was adopted upon independence in 1959, replaced in 1969 by Les Trois Glorieuses but reinstated in 1991. The words were written by Jacques Tondra and Georges Kibanghi, the music was composed by Jean Royer and Joseph Spadilière. [1]

Traditional music

The Republic is home to the Sub-Saharan African music traditions of the Kongo (48%), Sangha (20%), M'Bochi (12%) and Teke (17%) people, as well as 3% Europeans and others, in a population of about 4,492,689 (July 2013 est.). [2]

Folk instruments in the Republic of the Congo include the xylophone and mvet . The mvet is a kind of zither-harp, similar to styles found elsewhere in both Africa and Asia. The mvet is made of a long tube with one or two gourds acting as resonators .


Though soukous has become much more closely associated with the popular music of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, early in the style's evolution both the local scenes of Kinshasa and Brazzaville played a very important role. In these cities, American style orchestras (called soukous, or kirikiri or kasongo) played rumba (a kind of Cuban music) influenced by traditional music and jazz. Soukous arose from this fusion of styles, popularized as dance music by a number of different orchestras in the 1950s and 60s.[ citation needed ]

Related Research Articles

Music of the Democratic Republic of the Congo varies in its different forms. Outside Africa, most music from the Democratic Republic of Congo is called Soukous, which most accurately refers instead to a dance popular in the late 1960s. The term rumba or rock-rumba is also used generically to refer to Congolese music, though neither is precise nor accurately descriptive.

Music of Cameroon

The music of the Cameroon includes diverse traditional and modern musical genres. The best-known contemporary genre is makossa, a popular style that has gained fans across Africa, and its related dance craze bikutsi.

Music of Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial Guinea's culture has been less documented than most African countries, and commercial recordings remain scarce.

The term Congolese music can refer to the music of two countries:

Soukous is a genre of dance music from the Congo Basin. It derived from Congolese rumba in the 1960s and gained popularity in the 1980s in France. Although often used by journalists as a synonym for Congolese rumba, both the music and dance associated with soukous differ from more traditional rumba, especially in its higher tempo, longer dance sequences. Notable performers of the genre include African Fiesta, Papa Wemba and Pépé Kallé.

Music of Chad

Chad is an ethnically diverse Central African country in Africa. Each of its regions has its own unique varieties of music and dance. The Fulani people, for example, use single-reeded flutes, while the ancient griot tradition uses five-string kinde and various kinds of horns, and the Tibesti region uses lutes and fiddles. Musical ensembles playing horns and trumpets such as the long royal trumpets known as "waza" or "kakaki" are used in coronations and other upper-class ceremonies throughout both Chad and Sudan.

Papa Wemba Congolese musician

Jules Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba, known professionally as Papa Wemba, was a Congolese singer and musician who played Congolese rumba, soukous and ndombolo. 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.

African popular music, like African traditional music, is vast and varied. Most contemporary genres of African popular music build on cross-pollination with western popular music. Many genres of popular music like blues, jazz, afrobeats, salsa, zouk, and rumba derive to varying degrees on musical traditions from Africa, taken to the Americas by enslaved Africans. These rhythms and sounds have subsequently been adapted by newer genres like rock, and rhythm and blues. Likewise, African popular music has adopted elements, particularly the musical instruments and recording studio techniques of western music. The term does not refer to a specific style or sound, but is used as a general term for African popular music.

Kwassa kwassa is a dance created by Jeannora, a mechanic in Kinshasa from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, that started in the 1980s, where the hips move back and forth while the hands move to follow the hips. It was very popular in Africa.

Congolese rumba, also known as Rumba Lingala after its predominant language, is a popular genre of dance music which originated in the Congo basin during the 1940s, deriving from Cuban son. The style gained popularity throughout Africa during the 1960s and 1970s.

Bisso Na Bisso is a music collective of rappers and singers with origins from Congo Brazzaville formed in 1999. The group consisting of Ben-J, Lino and Calbo, Doc and G Kill, Mystik and the only female M'Passi was put together by French rapper Passi.

Wendo Kolosoy Congolese musician

Antoine Wendo Kolosoy, known as Papa Wendo, was a Congolese musician. He is considered the "Father" of Congolese rumba, also known as soukous, a musical style blending son cubano, beguine, waltz, tango and cha-cha.

Muziki wa dansi, or simply dansi, is a Tanzanian music genre, derivative of Congolese soukous. It is sometimes called Swahili jazz because most dansi lyrics are in Swahili, and "jazz" is an umbrella term used in Central and Eastern Africa to refer to soukous, highlife, and other dance music and big band genres. Muziki wa dansi can also be referred to as Tanzanian rumba, as "african rumba" is another name for soukous.

The Gabonese people have forged since the independence of the country, in 1960, their own culture which is neither the traditional culture of the different ethnic groups which compose it, nor modern Western culture. It is a culture in movement, a mixture of diversity and common traits, bringing together the most diverse beliefs and practices.

Republic of the Congo Equatorial country in Africa

The Republic of the Congo, also known as Congo-Brazzaville, the Congo Republic or simply either Congo or the Congo is a country located in the western coast of Central Africa. To the west lies Gabon; Cameroon to its northwest and the Central African Republic to its northeast; the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the southeast and the Angolan exclave of Cabinda to its south; and the Atlantic Ocean to its southwest. The official language is French.

Evoloko Atshuamo, best known as Evoloko Jocker or Lay Lay, is a popular congolese soukous singer. Since the late 1960s, he has been in several major soukous bands, such as Zaiko Langa Langa, Isifi Lokole, and Langa Langa Stars.

Saturnin Pandi (1932–1996) was a soukous recording artist, conga player, in the Republic of the Congo (Congo-Brazzaville) and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). He was one of the founding members of the soukous band TPOK Jazz, formed in 1956, led by François Luambo Makiadi, which dominated the Congolese music scene from the 1950s through the 1980s. He was also a member of the Bantous de la Capitale, formed, in Brazzaville in 1959, led by Jean Serge Essous.

Richard Yende Abongy Balengola, best known as Richacha "Chacha" Balengola, is a reggae, Hip Hop, RnB, soukous and world music drummer from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, based in Reims, France, since 1987.

<i>Babeti Soukous</i> 1989 studio album by Tabu Ley Seigneur Rochereau and Afrisa International Orchestra

Babeti Soukous is a 1989 studio/live album by DR Congolese soukous musician and pioneer Tabu Ley Rochereau and his band the Afrisa International Orchestra. Recorded for the duration of only one night as a live studio session at Real World Studios, Wiltshire, England in 1989, the album was one of the four albums released to establish Peter Gabriel's world music label Real World Records, and was one of the first recordings Rochereau created after exiling to France in 1988. Rochereau used the album as an opportunity to re-record highlights from the previous 20 years of his career.

Franklin Boukaka was a Congolese baritone singer, guitarist, and songwriter who is recognized as a pioneer of Congolese popular music. He performed in bands based in each of "the two Congos," i.e., the countries now named the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo; toured worldwide; achieved broad popularity; took outspoken political stances; and is widely believed to have been the victim of an extrajudicial execution during an attempted coup in the Republic of the Congo.


  1. La Semaine africaine 378, 29 November 1959, cited by Silvère NGOUNDOS IDOURAH and Nicole DOCKES-LALLEMENT, Justice et pouvoir au Congo-Brazzaville, 1958-1992, la confusion des rôles, L'Harmattan, Paris, 2001, ISBN   2-7475-1319-X, 9782747513197
  2. C.I.A. World Factbook -