Barbara Kanam: Congolese Superstar In The Footsteps of Mbilia Bel
Evergreen, talented, gorgeous and enterprising, Barbara Kanam, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) singer, celebrates her 46th birthday on 27 September 2019 and remains as determined as ever to keep roaring like a lioness. Both on stage and in the studio. Her debut album Mokili (the World in Lingala), launched in 1999 in Ivory Coast, […]
Evergreen, talented, gorgeous and enterprising, Barbara Kanam, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) singer, celebrates her 46th birthday on 27 September 2019 and remains as determined as ever to keep roaring like a lioness. Both on stage and in the studio.
Her debut album Mokili (the World in Lingala), launched in 1999 in Ivory Coast, was the curtain-raiser that opened the doors to the real world of music. Teti followed in 2003 and then came Karibu (Welcome in Swahili, 2009), which lay the ground for her to meet the destiny of stardom.
However, it was Zawadi (Gift in Swahili, 2015) that pushed her to the top of the world, and set her on course to emulate Marie-Claire Mboyo, aka Mbilia Bel.
Mbilia Bel, who plied her trade under the late music icon Tabu Ley before flying solo, remains the DRC ‘s most powerful voice, which through melodious slow rhythms, comforted millions of miserable Congolese during the dictatorship era of Mobutu Sese Seko.
Today, Kanam is being touted by music commentators as the new Mbilia Bel of the DRC and Africa. And she is defending this accolade so well, both on stage and in songs through her sexy dance moves and a golden voice that also brings relief to her people of eastern DRC, decimated by two decades of war, massacre, rape and diseases.
Born in Bukavu, in the troubled eastern province of South Kivu, and bred both in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi, Kanam had her first shot of music in Pretoria, the political capital of South Africa, where she sang in the choir and was quickly noticed by experts as the star of the future.
Kanam is a child of Africa because she has lived and worked in various African cities. However, Abidjan, the Ivory Coast bustling commercial capital, will forever stuck in her mind as the place where her musical career kicked off.
And all of this thanks to Dodo Koné, who at the time was the manager of Alpha Blondy. Blondy is the reggae legend of Ivory Coast.
One of the highlights of her career is undoubtedly the featuring she did with the late Papa Wemba, the king of rumba music, in the album titled Maître d’école (Schoolmaster, 2014), Wemba’s last recorded songs.
Kanam exploded in Triple Option, a song she sang with Papa Wemba, demonstrating that she is no longer the 27-year-old Barbara of the year 2000.
Papa Wemba was very impressed by her talent, her hard work and her professionalism, to an extent of nicknaming her Barbara Nsunga (Barbara who smells nice). And when the song’s video hit the screens, it was all over for her critics.
At 46, Barbara has grown up mentally, physically and professionally. She is a superstar and she intends to maintain these status for a long time to come. Happy Birthday and all the best.
Barbara Kanam. Pic Credit: Musique.cd