Docteur Nico Kasanda is the originator of the ubiquitous Congolese guitar style. He was born in the Congolese province of Kasai Orientale on July 7 1939 as Kasanda wa Mikalayi.
That Docteur Nico became such an accomplished guitarist comes as no surprise. He comes form a musical family. His father was an accomplished accordionist. Two of his elder brothers , Dechaud Mwamba andEmmanuel Tshilumba wa Baloji known popularly as Tino Baroza” were excellent guitarists.
He honed his skills at the Opika studios alongside his brothers. He started playing with Africa Jazz at the tender age of 14 in 1953. While pursuing a musical career wih Africa Jazz, he earned a teaching diploma. He was the musicians who accompanied Le Grande Kalle to the Rond Table talks in Belgium. A female Belgian journalist who was greatly impressed by Nico’s guitar skills , nicknamed him Docteur and the name stuck.
His solo guitar stringing genius is unrivalled in the history of Congo music to the point where He is referred to by many of todays musicians as the school of Zairean guitar. Dr Nico’s influence was so great that Jimmy Hendrix , the American solo guitar legend once payed him a personal visit while on tour in Paris.
He left Africa Jazz along with Tabu Ley to form Africa Fiesta. He along with Tabu ley is credited with inventing Soukous, the dance craze that swept the continent for over two decades. Later he parted ways with Tabu Ley to form his own band which he named Africa Fiesta Sukisa. Sadly he quit the music scene in the mid seventies until his death on September 22 1985.
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