Showing posts with label Mutuashi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mutuashi. Show all posts

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Tshala Muana: The Voice of Kasai



Acclaimed as one of Congo's greatest female singers, Tshala Muana over four decades in the business has emerged as the international ambassadress for Mutuashi, the insistent rhythm and dance style of Kasai Province in central Congo, very different from the mainstream soukous that is usually associated with the country.

She was born in Lubumbashi on March 13, 1958 and made her way to Kinshasa in 1976, where she joined M'Pongo Love's orchestra as a dancer. After recording two singles that didn't make a mark, she joined the group Minzoto Wella-Wella. It was in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, though, where she would make the acquaintance of the musician and arranger Jimmy Hyacinthe in 1981, that she finally made her breakthrough with her smash hit "Amina." Gary Stewart writes in Rumba on the River (Verso Book, London/New York, 2000):

With her straightened hair and evening gown, Tshala resembled one of the Supremes as she glided on stage at the cultural center of Abidjan’s Treichville neighborhood. She sang her songs and danced the mutuashi, a traditional dance of the Baluba from Zaire’s Kasai province. ‘Mutuashi,’she explained, was a Tshiluba word, a shout of encouragement for dancers that eventually became synonymous with the dance itself, and with Tshala Muana too. Subsequent appearances in Abidjan increased her nascent following. 
In 1982, financed by money borrowed from a friend, she flew to Paris with Hyacinthe’s band to cut a record. The A side, ‘Amina’ - a song given her by guitarist Souzy Kasseya, whom she’d met in M’Pongo Love’s band - packs a funky West African feel and lots of brass in support of Tshala’s tart commentary. 
Amina, shake my hand.
Even if you’re my opponent in this run-off.
I can’t hold it against you.
The world is like that, today it’s you, tomorrow it’s me.
Amina, I know what I think,
I’ve known a long time:
A man is like a hospital bed that takes in all the sick.
When you’re there it’s you,
When I’m there it’s me. 
Tshala sang ‘Amina’ in French to reach the widest possible audience, while the B side, ‘Tshebele,’ presented a more traditional piece with a percussion driven sebene in the mutuashi style and lyrics in Tshiluba. Back in Abidjan, the finished disc was reported to have sold more than 11,000 copies in Cote d’Ivoire alone.
Amina / Tshebele was licensed to Roland Francis's African Record Centre in Brooklyn (African Record Centre ARCS 3690) and released in the US to little notice, but nonetheless, Tshala was on her way to international fame:

Tshala Muana - Amina

Tshala Muana - Tshebele

Here's another US pressing from the early '80s (Disco Stock-Makossa DMGM 500, 1984):

Tshala Muana - Akouffa



Tshala Muana's outstanding 1984 release Mbanda Matiere (Safari Ambiance SAS 051) showcasing the stellar guitar work of Souzy Kasseya, is the one that really cemented her international reputation. Recorded in Paris, featuring soukous and mutuashi and lyrics in Lingala and Tshiluba, it established her in her home country as well. The collaboration with Souzy Kasseya is one that has continued on and off throughout Muana's career:






In the late '90s Tshala Muana returned to Congo from a long sojourn in Paris. She has continued her recording career, serving as a mentor to younger musicians who will carry the mutuashi torch. She's also gotten involved in politics and efforts to improve the status of women. 

Download Amina/Tshebele as a zipped file here.

Download Akouffa/Chokepansh as a zipped file here.

Download Mbanda Matiere as a zipped file here.

An informative article about Tshala Muana by Ken Braun from The Beat (Vol. 10, No. 5, 1991) here.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Still Another Re-Up




I've been unable to find out much about Congo's Bobongo Stars, but their unique blend of funk, rock & roll, Soukous and Mutuashi made them stand out in the crowded '80s Kinshasa music scene. They had their own night club, made commercial jingles, played backup for the Angolan singer Diana, and achieved a measure of renown in Europe before fading from sight.

Some time ago I posted the Bobongo Stars album Makasi (Celluloid CEL 6627, 1983) over on Uchenna Ikonne's blog With Comb & Razor, and as it's since gone offline, I thought now was a propitious moment to make it available again.


The above photograph of the Bobongo Stars was taken by Chris Stapleton and appeared in his article "Kinshasa Diary: Zaïre," which was in the Summer 1986 issue of Africa Beat (London). Here are the songs from Makasi, and you can download them as a zipped file here:

Bobongo Stars - Mbati

Bobongo Stars - Joyce

Bobongo Stars - La Vie Ya Lelo

Bobongo Stars - Nazangi Yo

Bobongo Stars - Koteja

Bobongo Stars - Simba Moto