Docteur Nico Kasanda


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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5 Responses to Docteur Nico Kasanda

  1. Edward ntephe says:

    A great musician. many timeless tunes.

  2. Talent at its best.

  3. Sideon Nagoyi says:

    Dr. Nico was such a prolific and innovative guitar player. I can remember, a teenager growing up in the diamond district of Kono in Sierra Leone, how popular Dr. Nico and his band were. He and his band came to the district in the early 1970s and you could see the clamour of fans who nearly turned Koidu Town upside-down just to have a glimpse of this guitar wizard. At his concert, those that were lucky enough to enter the hall had no time to dance but to stand gazing in amazement at the band’s charismatic performance. What saved the band, or more especially Dr. Nico himself from being crushed by enthusiastic crowds, was the high security that tried to control the over-enthusiastic crowd. It was a wonderful event in the history of Sierra Leone, just as it was when Orchestre Lipua Lipua visited the country in the 1980s. Those memories never die because Congolese music was the most and only forceful music that swept across Africa like a whirlwind.