Koffi Olomide is a Congolese guitarist, singer and songwriter credited with injecting new life into the popular music called soukous, one of the most popular forms of dance music in West Africa. He wrote songs for Papa Wemba and Zaiko Langa Langa before starting his own band, Quartier Latin, in 1986. He invented a new soukous rhythm dubbed tchao tcho and was one of the top bandleaders and songwriters on the European world music scene in the 90s. He continues to tour and record with Quartier Latin in the new millennium.
Olomide was born on Friday the 13th of August 1956 in the Democratic Republic of Congo and moved to Kinshasa, the capital, while he was a boy. He was a sickly child, although he grew up in a middle class family. He started making up songs when he was seven and in his teens became known for writing new words to the melodies of popular hits, especially the songs of Tabu Ley Rochereau, one of the Congo’s legendary singers. He learned enough music on guitars borrowed from friends to impress a neighbor, who offered to teach the young Olomide how to play. Music remained a hobby though and his family sent him to Paris to finish university. Back home on holidays, with his brother’s encouragement, Olomide recorded a few of his own songs. Two of them, “Asso” and “Princesse Ya Senza,” were hits and soon Papa Wemba and Zaiko Langa Langa were recording his tunes. He recorded several singles with Papa Wemba including the hit “Anibo
After graduation in 1980, Olomide returned to Congo and decided to become a professional musician. He cut his first solo album in Belgium with producer Roland Leclerc in 1983 and returned to Congo for two collaborations with well-known singers Fafa de Molokai and Yakini Kiesse. Olomide started his own band, Quartier Latin, in 1986 and started turning out singles and albums on a regular basis, both under his own name and as Quartier Latin. Influenced by the zouk band Kassav’, Olomide incorporated international dance music and electronics into his sound. His international success started with 1987’s hits “Kiki Ewing” and “Ngobila” released internationally on the album Diva and 1998’s Henriquet and the 1988 Congolese album Golden Star dans Stephie. They were compiled and released later as Tcha Tcho by Stern’s UK.
In October 2007, he returned to the Zenith in paris and in 2008 he returned with the double album Koffi. Each of the two CDs begins with a duet, one with Youssou N’Dour and the other with Lokua Kanza. There are also several songs with Cindy Le Coeur, a young, promising Congolese artist whom Koffi Olomide took under his wing. She was also part of his line up when he returned to the Zenith in Paris in 2009. Their artistic relationship materialised in a live CD from a show given in Kinshasa in February 2010, entitled Cindy chante Koffi.
In August, the singer appeared in Kinshasa on charges of intentional assault on his producer. For this fact, he was sentenced to three months suspended prison sentence.
On August 7, he reappears on stage for the 10-year career of Fally Ipupa, a former member of the Latin Quarter. And on August 13, he performed at the Kintambo Velodrome stadium under the theme "Koffi sings freely". He took the opportunity to celebrate, among other things, his 60th birthday. In 2017 the album Nyataquance will be released, with the song Pardon, on which the singer seems to ask the African woman forgiveness for the mistakes he made earlier.