Artist Profiles: Wendo Kolosoy

Wendo Kolosoy
Antoine “Wendo” Kolosoy was born in 1925. Kolosoy learned how to play guitar at a very young age, after his dead mother appeared in a dream and told him to do so. He started his musical career in 1936. He traveled to Leopoldville in the former Belgian Congo (the current Kinshasha in the Democratic Republic of Congo) and formed a band called Victoria Kin.

With the release of his breakthrough 1948 recording Marie Louise, Papa Wendo became the first superstar of Congo music and remained so into the 1960s. Anyone old enough to recall the so-called tango ya ba Wendo, the era of Wendo, does so with a wistful sigh, for it was a time of awakening, a time of hope, a time when a long oppressed land on the brink of independence found a national voice in music.

Congo’s rumba transcended the country’s vast ethnic diversity and embraced international music trends with a sound so universal in its appeal that it would keep the African continent; indeed, much of the world ? dancing for decades to come. Wendo mostly sat out the three-decade Mobutu era. But when it ended in 1997, there he was, still in fine voice, still writing songs and with a polished band of veterans and young players.

Kolosoy’s 1997 album Marie Louise (Indigo LBLC 2561) marked his comeback after many years of silence during the Mobutu regime. The title track of that album is a remake of Wendo’s 1936 pan-African hit single, which was rumored to wake the dead when played at midnight. When listening to this music, you get the feeling that you?re hearing the sound of Africa from another time.

Amba was Kolosoy’s first recording made in Kinshasa in nearly 40 years. The maestro picks up right where he left off, yodeling heartily and swinging hard in a powerful celebration. Amba was recorded in Kinshasa and released in Europe during Fall 2000 on the Marabi Label. With Amba, Papa Wendo clearly returned to the form that made him famous in the 1930s and 40s.

Wendo Kolosoy died on July 28, 2008 in Kinshasa.

Discography:

Marie Louise (Indigo, 1997)
Amba (World Village, 1999)
On The Rumba River (Marabi, 2007)
Banaya Papa Wendo (Igloo, 2007)

July 28, 2008

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.

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