BEFORE MBILIA BEL,TSHALA MUANA & YONDO SISTER, CAME ABETI MASIKINI | CONGOLESE RHUMBA CONNECT.
Abeti Masikini, a Swahili speaking musical diva from Kisangani was the first female music superstar from D.R.C. Her greatest legacy is that under her band ‘Les Tigresses’ she groomed female artists who went on to become the greatest of this generation. Mbilia Bel joined Abeti’s ‘Les Tigresses’ from 1976 – 1981, Tshala Muana joined in 1978 while Yondo Sister joined in 1986.
Born Élisabeth Finant, Abeti lost her father when she was barely 7. Her father, a politician, was assassinated. When she was 17, in 1971, a musical contest dubbed “Discovery of young talents” was organized by Gerad Madiata and sponsored by among others Kiamuangana Mateta (Verckys). But there was one problem though for Abeti… the contest was only for people above 20.
With help of her family, Abeti changed her birth date, increasing it by three years in order to be eligible to participate, and she emerged the very best. Through this win, she went on to record her first album ‘Mutoto wangu’ at the tender age of 17. At that young age Abeti begun performing across West Africa and had great shows in Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Niger, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Senegal, Ghana and Nigeria.
You probably have listened to her greatest hits ‘Je Suis Fache’ which has over 1 million views on Youtube and ‘MwanaMuke wa Miss’ without knowing the artist. Her other hit ‘Cherie Bade’ has been redone by Cindy le Cour of Koffi Olomide’s Quarter Latin. ‘MwanaMuke wa Miss,’ inaccurately posted as Afrique Étoile on YouTube was released in 1992 and remains a global hit.
Abeti Masikini did her first major global show at the famed Olympia Hall in Paris in 1973 at tender age of 19, an act many artists take years to accomplish. One setback was that her early global success was not being replicated in Lingala speaking D.R.C mainly because she sang in Swahili, French and a bit of English. This changed when she begun doing Lingala language songs.
Abeti collaborated with TP OK Jazz of Franco and released ‘Na Pesi Yo Mboté and ‘Bifamuri’ done purely in Lingala and released in 1982 together with ‘I love You’ (Mwasi Ya Bolingo) and a self-titled song called Abeti as well as Jalousie which earned her the first gold record with more than 300,000 copies sold.
Abeti incorporated accomplished guitarists Lokassa ya Mbongo and Dally Kimoko for the album En Colere (Angry.) In 1988 she performed at Zenith de Paris to a packed audience of over 5,000. To say that this was an electric performance would be an understatement. Abeti had invited Pepe Kalle and Aurlus Mabele as guest artists for this show.
Abeti released her last album ‘La Reine de Soukous’ in 1993 and it contained hits like ‘Bebe Matoko,’ Mupenzi, Malu’ and remake of ‘MwanaMuke wa Miss.’
Abeti died the following year of cancer at the tender age of 39. Posthumously she earned the highest national presidential honor ‘the National Order of the Leopard.’