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Country DRC Genres band rumba urban Website jupiter-okwess-international.com Festival Sauti za Busara 2014 Recordings
Hotel Univers, 2013
Jupiter Bokondji was born in Kinshasa 48 years ago, into a family of griots from the Mongo region. His grandmother, a renowned healer, introduced him to traditional rhythm and music including the famous Zebola from Ekonda (Mongo région of the equator), rhythms that are said to cure the sick. From a young age, Jupiter played percussion instruments and accompanied his grandmother to funerals and weddings.
However, it was in Germany East-Berlin, where he spent his adolescence, and where his father was appointed executive assistant for the Congo's embassy in 1974, that he discovered Europe and its vibrant music scene - the Stones, Deep Purple, James Brown etc. Here, he set up his own rock band called "Der Neger" with fellow young Berliners; their sound was a strange cocktail of Mongo percussions and guitar Zeppelin-esque guitar.
The band was successful in all the shady clubs in town. In his 20s, Jupiter travelled the Congo, searching for new sounds. These travels reinforced his feeling that all the music he heard in Europe originated from the 450 ethnic groups that made up his country, and that the tribalism that tore his country apart politically, could in fact become a unifying force. He continued to develop his own unique style, surrounding himself with trendy musicians connected to from Europe. His idea was to reactivate the forgotten rhythms and melodies of Congo, by injecting the urban groove of Kinshasa. He called this explosive mix 'Bofenia Rock' and in 1983, succeeded in forming his first orchestra, Bongofolk, who became his musical experiment. In 1990, he created Okwess International.