- Title: Award-winning Congolese singer Banza takes sudden fame in her stride
- Date: 3rd January 2020
- Summary: VARIOUS OF BANZA PERFORMING SONG CALLED "TE REMBI"
- Embargoed: 17th January 2020 14:44
- Keywords: Celine Banza Radio France International Discovery Award Te Rembi The Voice Afrique Francophone Ubangi
- Location: KINSHASA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
- City: KINSHASA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
- Country: Congo, Democratic Republic of the
- Topics: Arts / Culture / Entertainment,Music
- Reuters ID: LVA006BUMCPXZ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Celine Banza has produced a short film, participated in 'The Voice Afrique Francophone', is recording a full-length album and recently won the prestigious Radio France International Discoveries Award a prize that celebrates African musicians - all at the age of 22.
Banza comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC) northern Ubangi region that borders the Central African Republic.
She started singing at a young age with her school choir before moving to Kisangani, a city in the center of the country, where she met people who helped her develop a taste for music, dance, acting and cinematography.
"I chose to make it a career in Kisangani where I met wonderful artists, rap artists, dancers and I followed them to the Kabako studio. I was a backup singer. I played the opening acts, I performed by first concert in Kisangani and I told myself 'it is music and nothing else'," she said.
She returned to Kinshasa at the age of 15 and later studied musicology at the National Institute of Arts where she met her three bandmates.
Her prize-winning song "Te Rembi", which means "My body", is about asserting her value as a woman beyond the male gaze.
Banza rejected the temptation to sing in a more popular language like French or English because she wants audiences to know her culture and identity.
"What is a bit different is that I sing in my native language, I sing in Ngbandi, I'm from the Equator, north of Ubangi. I decided, I chose to sing in Ngbandi because I'm from there and it is a way for me to introduce my culture, where I come from, our identity, and that's the difference," she said.
Banza hopes that winning the Discoveries Award will be a major launching pad for her career.
In previous years the gong has gone to musicians such as Ivory Coast's Tiken Jah Fakoly and Mali's Amadou and Mariam who had already toured the world and earned global fame.
"To have received the 2019 Discoveries Award is a big step forward for me, it's a dream come true, it's every artists' dream to be able to showcase his/her culture, his/her art around the world. This award gives me this opportunity to go shoot, travel and discover all that, it's huge," she said.
Winning the prize also gives her the opportunity to tour Africa and perform on stage in Paris.
Congo has a long-established reputation as a center of musical innovation, with much of its music since independence from Belgium in 1960 drawing inspiration from Cuban rumba, which is echoed in Banza's lilting melodies.
(Benoit Neymba, Yvonne Bell, Christophe Van Der Perre)
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