He ruled the airwaves in the late 1980s with his songs which cut across cultural boundaries. But suddenly, he disappeared into thin air, leaving millions of his fans yearning for more of his stimulating music.
Awilo Longomba, the Congolese superstar who won the hearts of millions of music lovers across the world, especially in Nigeria with his monotonous but infectious songs and sexy dance steps has resurfaced again. He disappeared from the music scene after releasing his hit album, and since then, nothing much has been heard of him.
Interestingly, the Congelese superstar reappeared in Lagos, last week where he graced the hosting of 2Face’s new album, ‘Ascension’, by MTV and the organisers of Industry Nite. Indeed, it was a homecoming affair for the ‘Moto Pamba’ crooner who performed alongside 2Face at the event.
Elated Awilo told Pot-Pourri that he was in Nigeria where he performed at the opening gala of MTN Project West Africa, as well as to promote his latest single, ‘Bundele.’ He described 2Face as ‘a legend of our time’, adding that ‘After listening to all of his songs, it has been very difficult for me to separate one single from the other because they are all good. It was indeed a difficult choice to make. 2Face is good.’
‘I was actually invited to come and perform at the gala night of the popular reality TV show, MTN Project Fame. I was due to return to London where I’m currently residing, but I decided to stay back and honour Tuface as they host him tonight. 2Face is a legend of our time. I love Nigeria and all the English-speaking countries. I relocated to London because I needed to improve on my English speaking art,’ Awilo said.
Also, on why he disappeared from the music scene, the Congolese superstar said, it was based on global demand for his music. ‘My disappearance has to do with promotional issues. After releasing my hit album, I was wanted all over the world. I didn’t disappear, rather, I was busy touring the whole world and entertaining my fans.
Honestly, I think you should inquire from the DJs about me. Yes, I went underground for some years now. But now, I’m back with a new song which is currently making waves in Brazil and other parts of the world. Let me add that I am also in Nigeria to promote my single titled ‘Bundele.’ It is currently rated as one of the best songs in the world.’
Awilo’s popularity during his reign spread to USA/ Canada while on tour then with Nabtry International Cultural Dancers, an African dance group founded in 2007 by Grace Haukwa. The Super-Man tour was successful throughout 2008 and 2009. By popular votes and a historic win at the International Reggae and World Music Awards with over 120 countries voting in, Awilo’s Super-Man won the Best Soukous Entertainer Award 2009.
According to him, Afro-beat king, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti inspired him into music. ‘The Afro-beat legend, Fela Kuti inspired my going into music. He was the biggest musician Nigeria ever produced and he popularised the Nigerian music all over the world. As a kid, I enjoyed one of his songs, ‘Shakara’. That song inspired one of my hit songs which you all know and sing till date. Afro-beat is the best music genre in the world,’ Awilo said.
His songs appealed not only to English-speaking countries but also, European countries and other parts of the world. His songs particularly inspired most Nigerian musicians such as Funmi Adams’ ‘Yaro,’ which she sang in Hausa in the late 80s. Also Julius Agwu’s songs, ‘Okombo, Chop Bisikit, Bendown Sellect and I Buy Kwilikwili’ were all inspired by Awilo’s creativity.
It would be recalled that after Awilo’s hit songs in his ‘Coupe Bilamba’ album, a lot of other French singing Africans began to outwit each other in releasing songs which then had a large market in Nigeria. Its influence grew to the extent that comic actor, Julius Agwu, made a comic remix of Awilo’s songs and made a massive impact. Decribed as ‘a huge success’, most musicians including gospel artistes made their own versions and also began to play that brand of music though it has waned at the moment.
It was another unforgettable experience when Awilo stormed Nigeria for a concert. Millions of music lovers in Nigeria described that experience as ‘ unprecedented in the history of shows in the country.’
What probably could equate the crowd that attended the epoch-making music show is the Paul Adefarasin’s Experience, where Christians of all denominations gathered at the Tafawa Balewa Square for a once in a year live concert featuring both foreign and local acts. Awilo was in his best element, setting the venue on fire, with his captivating dance steps.
Unfortunately, the Congolese superstar disappeared into thin air, leaving no traces until last week when he reappeared in Lagos. Recently, his fans were shocked when they saw him in a music video of a wavemaking Nigerian artiste, Praize. Indeed, Awilo is back to reclaim his place in the music scene. But can he pull the same weight as he did during his reign?
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