Best of The Beat September 21, 2017
Best of The Beat on Afropop: Congo Music 101—Merveilles du Passé

Musicologist Ken Braun, who for many years made African records available to us fanatics in the States via distribution by Sterns Music, sat in for a time as the “African Beat” columnist for The Beat. In this BOTB article published in 1992, he details the indispensable multivolume set of Congolese music spanning the early days of the evolution from rumba to the dawning of soukous, from the 1950s up to the ‘70s. Compiled by the Sonodisc label, the indispensable Merveilles du Passé (Wonders of the Past) series brought alive the beginnings of the music that became hugely popular not just in Congo/Zaire, but across many countries in Africa and Europe. You can find many of these titles downloadable on Amazon and elsewhere.

If you’ve become aware of the music of Franco and TPOK Jazz, or Tabu Ley Rochereau and Afrisa International through reportage here on Afropop, go deep and dig into the roots of the three eras of Congolese music history. Ken also provides a sidebar, “What Is Congo, Where is Soukous,” that explains the complicated back story of how the genre of soukous came to be named.



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