Entertainment & Arts

Papa Wemba: 'We have lost a golden voice' says DJ Edu

Papa Wemba during his final concert before his death Image copyright AFP
Image caption Wemba, seen here during his final performance, was known for his flamboyant style

Papa Wemba died on stage doing what he loved the most - making music.

As a musician, he was known for his impact on the rumba and soukous genres. His vibrant performances made him highly respected in world music circles.

Music was his life. It made him connect with his audience, and the way he narrated his life through his music meant so much to fans.

He made love songs; he made catchy, energetic songs that came with a dance. Dance is at the heart of much Congolese music, with the artist singing out instructions and the crowd responding and dancing together.

His unique voice, with the ability to hit high-pitched notes, made his music unmistakable.

The ability to sing in different languages helped his music travel and be heard across Swahili-speaking countries like Kenya. Rail On is a good example of such a track sung in Swahili.

As a fashion icon, he encouraged young men to dress elegantly regardless of their background through what became known as the Sapeurs movement.

The Sapeurs consider Wemba a god of fashion. He in turn helped to promote the movement by wearing expensive clothes on stage, becoming one of their biggest supporters.

Koffi Olomide just is one of the artists who benefited from Wemba's patronage, writing songs for him and playing in his bands.

Wemba helped to open up Congolese music to Europe where he appeared often, gracing many festival stages with his band and dancers.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Wemba died on stage during a festival in Ivory Coast

During one visit, he was accused of smuggling illegal immigrants. He served time in jail and claimed to have undergone a spiritual conversion.

While he recorded over 40 albums and performed around the world, influencing culture and setting trends, his music has always stayed true to his roots.

Fans and well wishers have been gathering at his home in Congo to pay their respects to a man who helped bring Congolese culture to the world.

We have lost a golden voice, a musical legend and a fashion icon. RIP Papa Wemba.

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