The sound of Congolese rumba rang through the auditorium of Lyon’s Musee des Confluences on Saturday night as show-goers danced and sang away.
It was a performance by Congolese pianist and guitarist Ray Lema in which he pays tribute to the father of Congolese rumba, Franco.
Lema performed songs off his “On entre KO, on sort OK” album which came out in 2020.
“When I listened to Franco again, I realized that he transposed the Congolese rhythmic philosophy onto a guitar. Today, what we really call Congolese music, N’dumbolo, comes from Franco’s philosophy, it’s him who brought these “sebèl” as we say in our country, these guitar patterns that come back in a loop, in a way, it is Franco who was the inventor of this style, and today we do not quote him enough to say that it is his influence, and I was very honored to be able to pay tribute to this elder,” Lema told Africanews after the concert.
He was accompanied by a full orchestra consisting of Fredy Massamba and Ballou Canta on the microphone, bassist Michel Alibo, Dharil Denguemo on drums, and others.
The concert was sponsored by the French ministry of culture under its ‘Cultural Summer’ program.
“I liked it very much and thank you to the auditorium for giving us this kind of free concert… Ray Lema, bravo!” said one woman who attended the show.
For many, it was their first time experiencing Congolese rumba.
Rumba is arguably Congo’s biggest cultural export.
In the country, an official campaign has been launched to promote the inclusion of rumba, considered a major genre of African music, in UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage list.