Very few Congolese artists have made it from Le Belle Epoche to the present day Congolese music scene with their fan base still intact while also picking up new fans along the way. Many have passed away, while others simply lost their popularity over the years as the music of the Congo continued to go through changes. Tshala Muana is one such artist who has stood the test of time. Not only has Tshala Muana wowed audiences for years with her music she has been a advocate for political and social change in the Congo and has even had to flea the country because of her views and political work.
She was born Elizabeth Tshala Muana on March 13, 1958, in the Kasai section of the Congo the 2nd of 10 children. As a child she was very much into dance and the music of her native Kasai. Once she completed secondary school her love for music and dance grew and she dreamed of bringing the unique sounds of Kananga (her native village) called MUTUASHI to other parts of the Congo and eventually the world.
In 1976, she leaves Kananga for Kinshasa with the hopes of fulfilling her musical dreams. Allured by the voice and sound of Mpongo Love she soon joins Tcheke Tcheke Love (Mpongo's band) as a dancer in 1977. In that same year Muana decides to try her hand at singing. She releases two 45's which unfortunately bring her no success. She soon joins the group Minzoto Wela Wela and continues to struggle to make herself known as a vocalist.
In 1980 she decides to broaden her scope and embarks on a West African tour starting in Brazzaville and travels to Nigeria, Togo, and Ivory Coast. Success in Abidjan (the capitol of the Ivory Coast) being one of the musical centers of Africa enabled Tshala Muana to finally realize her success once she won that area over with her 45 single "Amina" which she recorded in Paris in 1982.
In 1984 she settles in Paris where she would eventually record 19 albums. She makes more world tours and almost everywhere she goes she wins awards and trophies for exceptional music. In 1987 she plays in the motion picture film "Falato".
In 1991 she was decreed by the Chiefs of the greater Kasai area as an Ambassador of Kasai Culture. In 1997 she returns to the Congo from Paris indefinitely. As an artist she has continuously fought for political soviernty and the territorial integrity of the Congo (Kinshasa). She created one of the greatest movements for women called REFECO (Regroupement des Femmes Congolaises: The Regrouping of Congolese Women) which continues to this day.
In the year 2000 she is appointed a Congolese national and takes a temporary break from her music. After 3 years at the urging of her manager she rejoins the music scene and creates a group called Dynasty Mutuashi and releases her 20th album "Dinanga Vuet Dire Amour" (Dinanga Means Love). The album is an insanely huge success in The Democratic Republic of Congo and throughout Africa. In 2002 she releases MALU (Problem) and continues to gain recognition for her music. In 2003 she wins the KORA award for Best Female Artist. MALU goes on to sell close to 600, 000 copies not counting the numerous bootlegs that were surely sold. Her latest album MAMU a double disc and dvd was released in 2006 bringing her discography to 22 albums. This release has also been met with rave reviews and continues Tshala's reign as the Queen of Mutuashi.
(This article was loosely translated from french from her official website. http://tshalamuana.ifrance.com/)
Pour lire cet article en français allez à son site Web officiel: http://tshalamuana.ifrance.com/
We at Tambour d'Afrique admire not only her music but her dedication to her native land and people. She is an artist of great caliber and a person with a purpose. I will leave you with examples of her great music and a video from her most recent release.
Tutu (ft. Papa Wemba)