Ricardo Lemvo is a Congo-born artist of Angolan ancestry who grew up in Congo's capital of Kinshasa at a time when Cuban music and Congolese rumbas were the rage on the African continent. Lemvo's earliest musical influences were Congolese artists Franco & T.P. OK Jazz, Le Grand Kallé, and Doctor Nico. Lemvo also heard recordings by the early great Cuban stars including Arsenio Rodriguez, Abelardo Barroso, Septeto Habanero, Felix Chapottin, Orquesta Aragón, Beny Moré and many more.
Lemvo's childhood dream of becoming a singer/bandleader became a reality after he moved to Los Angeles. In 1990, Lemvo formed his band Makina Loca with the goal of blending the Cuban and Congolese rhythms he heard as a youth in the Congo. Since forming Makina Loca, Lemvo has performed in some of the most prestigious venues throughout the world. He has also been featured on various radio and television programs such as BBC Radio, Radio France Internationale, National Public Radio, CBS Sunday Morning, the NBC Today Show, and CNN World Beat. In film, Ricardo Lemvo & Makina Loca appeared in the 1998 movie Dance With Me starring Vanessa Williams and Chayanne.
Lemvo's previous four albums -- Tata Masamba, Mambo Yo Yo, São Salvador, Ay Valeria -- have been enthusiastically acclaimed by both print and broadcast media worldwide
Isabela is Lemvo's fifth album. You can enjoy this splendid set purely for the way it moves, or you can drill down into its complex Afro-Atlantic heritage.
Recorded in three countries (the US, Canada, and France), this seemingly effortless album is the product of much hard work and knowledge. Its cosmopolitan bouquet of musical styles (including soukous, son, boogaloo, bolero, compas, Congolese rumba, and charanga-rap) is sung in six languages, each with its own distinct musicality. Besides Portuguese, Spanish, Kikongo, Lingala, and Swahili, Lemvo learned to sing in Turkish for his version of Candan Erçetin's "Elbette," which he turns into a Turkish tango.
Invited stars include Congolese guitar legend Papa NoÃ«l (on four numbers, including the title song) and singers Wuta Mayi and Nyboma, and the Cuban Alfredo De La Fe on violin and cello. Arranging duties were shared by Cuba's Jesús A. Pérez "El Niño" and Congo's Bopol Mansiamina (Les Quatre Etoiles). It all flows like one piece of music.
Isabela's repertoire ranges from "Kasongo Boogaloo," a fiery upbeat boogaloo, to '50s Congo classic "Lollobrigida" (written by the late Congolese guitarist Tino Baroza in honor of Italian movie star Gina Lollobrigida), to "Serenata Angolana," a duet with Cape Verdean songstress Maria de Barros that Lemvo dedicated to his beloved Angola.
Isabela is also the name of Ricardo Lemvo's new daughter, born as the album was nearing completion. What better way to celebrate a blessing than with a dance?
Ricardo Lemvo's Isabela CD will be available in stores and online at amazon.com on March 20.