Tabu Ley Seigneur Rochereau

One of the greatest stars of Congolese music with a career bridging decades. Light and precise soukous rhythms, Latin-inflected horns, rich harmonies and Tabu Ley Rochereau's distinctly high nasal voice.

Tabu Ley Rochereau came to prominence in the band African Jazz, formed in 1953 which popularised the form of local rumba by blending the use of indigenous instruments, rhythms and vocal styles with imported elements, including Latin dance beats, electric guitars and westernised arrangements.

Rochereau’s lyrical compositions and sweet singing voice earned him almost instant success with group, but in the early 1960s he broke away to form African Fiesta, a short-lived partnership with Dr Nico. Actively seeking inspiration from outside Rochereau said:

"An idea came to me in 1968, following a big tour of west Africa that took me from Brazzaville to Abidjan... I could see the people knew my music and they liked me. But when I played, there was not enough passion being generated. So I knew I had to create a spectacular show." Tabu Ley Rochereau

In the 1970’s Rochereau consolidated his position as the country’s most popular singer whilst also bringing African music to an international audience with his band Afrisa International, whose members included, at points, Sam Mangwana and Papa Wemba.

In 1985 Rochereau performed at the WOMAD festival on Mersea Island, Essex.

In later life, living back in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rochereau took on a number of political roles, including that of vice-governor of Kinshasa.

Tabu Ley Rochereau (Pascal-Emmanuel Sinamoyi Tabu), singer, songwriter and bandleader, born 13 November 1937; died 30 November 2013

Tabu Ley Seigneur Rochereau

Democratic Republic of Congo

Further reading

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A three-act 18 person episode convened (virtually) by Snarky Puppy's Michael League.

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