Makossa can make a man mad.
The man in me goes crazy to bubble in dance.
Move over, Tuface or is it Tubaba? Wizkid can wait. Serve me no Davido. Flash aside Flavour.
The maestro on my mind is Awilo.
Modern musicians in Nigeria play no instruments. Awilo should be a good lesson for them.
Awilo Longomba, simply known as Awilo to many Nigerians, was born in Kinshasa, the capital city of Congo Democratic Republic.
He was literally born into music as his father, Vicky Longomba, was the celebrated founder and lead singer of the band Tout Puissant OK Jazz which dominated the scene during the golden age of Congolese rumba.
Awilo paid little attention, if at all, to his education. He devoted literally all his time to mastering the art of drumming.
He was quite passionate in his embrace of the drums such that he was soon the toast of other musicians around Kinshasa who invited him to drum for their bands.
One of the early groups he did sessions with as a drummer was L’orchestre de Lita Bembo.
A major influence for Awilo after the tutelage of his father was the great Papa Wemba who employed the youngster as a drummer for his orchestra Viva La Musica.
It was Papa Wemba who opened the doors of international limelight for Awilo during the tour of Europe in 1985 and then Japan in 1986. The tours marked Awilo’s first taste of live performances in packed halls internationally.
A major decision for Awilo was the decision to move to France. The music scene in France was literally shaken awake by the spirited drumming of the young Awilo.
He was involved in world tours with distinguished African musicians such as Tshala Muana, Kanda Bongo Man, Oliver Ngoma and so on.
An ambitious musician, Awilo left Papa Wemba’s Viva La Musica in 1992 and thereafter formed his own band known as La Nouvelle Generation.
He was a charismatic band leader in the mould of our very own Fela Anikulapo-Kuti and Cameroon’s Manu Dibango.
He became a singer in 1995, and his career took an entirely new dimension thereafter.
He abandoned La Nouvelle Generation and released his first solo album entitled Moto Pamba.
It was a one-man album with Awilo serving as the song-writer, vocalist and drummer!
Thus was born the star of the musical genre known as Techno-Soukous.
Awilo was like a force of nature that could not be ignored. It was after the release of his first solo album that he quit drumming and focused all his attention on singing.
He made successful tours of East Africa and Europe.
This first release earned him the “Best Central Africa Artist” award at the Kora Awards in 1996 and at the 1997 All-Africa Music Awards in Sun City, South Africa.
His second CD released in 1998 with the collaboration of Jocelyne Beroard became an instant hit. The title track “Coupe Bibamba” was quite controversial given its unremitting denunciation of poverty in Africa. It became a number one hit in the musical charts of Europe as well as Africa.
Awilo’s third CD Kafou Kafou became a hit just like his first two. He was given pride of place at the 2001 KORA Awards with the recognition of his outstanding contribution to African music.
He was thus given the “Judges Special Awards” of KORA 2001.
Awilo has become a universal brand, and the chanting of “Awilo Longomba” cuts across ages and regions.
Awilo’s other hits are Mondongo (2004) and Super-Man (2008). He has done collabos with P-Square, Tiwa Savage and Yemi Alade.
He is without question the most sought after Congolese musician in Africa, the Americas and Europe.
He has toured all the regions of Africa, and his name is a household name in countries such as Nigeria, Zambia, Mali, Gabon, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Benin, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Cameroon etc.
He has equally undertaken sold-out tours of European countries like Britain, Belgium, Switzerland etc.
His performance at the Star Trek in Nigeria was an unprecedented event in the annals of musical promotion in the country. The crowds were quite uncontrollable and the gyrations to the tunes of Awilo nearly led many to madness.
Awilo has the singular distinction of filling up the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos in 2000.
There were wild scenes of youths letting go without let or hindrance. Even rapes were said to have been at a premium!
Nollywood took the Awilo phenomenon within its stride with the release of the raunchy movie entitled Awilo Sharp-Sharp.
Music rides on The Three R’s of Rhythm-Rhyme-Repetition.
Awilo is the embodiment of all three. Let’s go mad with dance – to Awilo!