Obituary for Tabu Ley Rochereau

Tabu Ley, “King of Congolese Rhumba” will be remembered at a funeral service today. A report at www.worldmusiccentral.org includes the following tribute:

Throughout his career, Mr. Rochereau wrote some 3,000 songs and produced some 250 recordings.  He also earned the Honorary Knight of Senegal and Officer of the National Order, the Republic of Chad during his lifetime.

During Mobutu Sese Seko regime in the Congo, Mr. Rochereau, who had changed his name to Tabu Ley, would soon become disenchanted and sought out exile in France. In the 1990s, he moved to Southern California in the United States. He would find his 1990 recording Trop, C’est Trop banned by the Mobutu regime and deemed subversive. It would take the overthrow of the Mobutu regime in 1997 for Mr. Rochereau to return to Kinshasa and take up a cabinet position under President Laurent Kabila.  He would continue in politics, taking up positions as Vice-Governor of Kinshasa in 2005 and later served as a provincial minister of culture.

Mr. Rochereau’s life work, music and public service will be honored during a state funeral in the Congolese capital of Kinshasa.

It may be that with the passing of Nelson Mandela, few who are not African music affectionados (and fans of the soukous style in particular) will pay attention to the recent death in Brussels on November 30, 2013 of this groundbreaking musician. He was either 73 or 76 (as sources differ on his age).

Update: BBC on the funeral in Kinshasa DRC.

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