12 O'Clock Track: RIP Congolese singer Tabu Ley Rochereau | Bleader

12 O'Clock Track: RIP Congolese singer Tabu Ley Rochereau

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Tabu Ley Rochereau
  • Kingjumbo/Wikimedia Commons
  • Tabu Ley Rochereau
Amid plenty of chatter on social media and the NYT on the deaths of Peter Kaplan and Paul Walker, I was surprised to find little mention anywhere of the death of Congolese singer Tabu Ley Rochereau, who passed away over the weekend and who the Reader's Peter Margasak hailed as "one of the greatest voices Africa has ever produced." I first heard about Rochereau via rock critic Robert Christgau, who bestowed an "A+" rating on the breezy, brilliant 1985 album Omona Wapi, a collaborative effort with the singer and Congolese singer/guitarist/bandleader Franco. It was years before I finally got my hands on it, and the first Rochereau track I heard was "Aon Aon," an onomatopoeic number put on a durable mixtape by my friend Mike. I ended up grabbing the Sterns compilation The Voice of Lightness, a double CD of Rochereau's early work and an album I play frequently. (I also recommend the second volume of The Voice of Lightness, as well as Sterns' two compilations of the aforementioned Franco and the recent reissue of Joseph Kabasele's music, which Peter righteously included in his gift guide.) "Aon Aon" was my gateway to Rochereau's mesmerizing, alluring soukous music, so for today's 12 O'Clock Track, I hope it will be yours too.

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