Music

M'bilia Bel

Born 1959.

Biography

M'bilia Bel (born 1959) is a Congolese rumba singer, known as the Queen of Congolese rumba. She rose to fame after being discovered by Tabu Ley Rochereau.

Born in 1959 and brought up in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, M'bilia Bel became successful in the early 1980s when she recorded and toured with Tabu Ley Rochereau, and made her own solo albums. The birth of her first child prompted her to take a break from performing, however, and after a last album with Tabu Ley in 1987, she moved to Paris. There she started working with guitarist Rigo Star, and between 1989 and 1990 she went on tour to the United States, the United Kingdom, and West Africa. With a combination of beauty, an angelic soprano voice, and tremendous agility on stage, M'bilia Bel stole the hearts of music fans all over the continent. She was Africa's first female transcontinental diva. She became the first female musician from Africa who could claim popularity all over the entire continent and beyond. In fact, one could argue that there has not been any female musician from Africa who has captured the imagination of music fans across the continent as much as M'bilia Bel did in the eighties. South African Miriam Makeba, known as Mama Afrika, popularity peaked in the 1960s but could not attract as many fans as M'bilia Bel did later.

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