Tabu Ley Rochereau, the soukous pioneer known as the "King of Congolese Rumba" who was one of Africa's most beloved musicians, died on Saturday in a hospital in Brussels.
The singer born Pascal-Emmanuel Sinamoyi Tabu in what was then the Belgian Congo in 1937 (or 1940, depending on the source) had been ill since suffering a stroke in 2008. The leader of Orchestre Afrisa International was an innovative bandleader whose melllfluous sound melded African, Cuban and Caribbean rhythms, and he sang in an effortlessly airy tenor dubbed "The Voice of Lightness."
Tabu Ley's music is available on hundreds of LPs - I just picked up a great one on vinyl last wekend called Ley, Ley, Seigneur Ley Rochereau at Beautiful World Syndicate in South Philadelphia last weekend, in fact. It's also expertly collected in two double CD collections of the Sterns Africa label called The Voice of Lightness: Congo Classics. A 16 song Spotify playist put together by Paul O'Sullivan that was posted by Sterns yesterday is below, as is a video of the musician, who also had a political career, performing in Zaire in 1974 with fellow African superstar Franco.