Werrason, real name Noël Ngiama Makanda born December 25, 1965 in Moliambo, a small village in Bandundu province in the Western Democratic Republic of Congo, Kwilu District is a musician from the Democratic Republic of Congo and also leader of the band Wenge Maison Mère (WMM). By age eight, Werrason was singing at his local church, the Protestant Church of CBZO (Communauté Batiste du Zaire Ouest-Batism community of Western Zaire), Kinshasa. He loved martial arts and was a martial arts champion by age of 12. In 1981, in between his studies (for a degree in Accountancy), Werrason and his college friends Didier Masela, Adolphe Dominguez, J.B Mpiana, Blaise Bula among others created an innovative musical band “Wenge Musica 4X4 Tout Terrain Bon Chic Bon Genre”.http://idamawatu.tripod.com/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/werrason-press-kit.pdf
Werrason forms Wenge Musica Maison Mère
Their band Wenge Musica BCBG 4X4 Tout Terrain split in December 1997. Werrason and his two friends Adolphe Dominguez and Didier Masela, created Wenge Musica Maison Mère (WMMM)”, with its headquarters at Zamba Playa in Kinshasa, D.R.Congo, with Werrason as head. With most band members gone with JB Mpiana Werrason and his two friends, had to build Maison Mère from scratch, with assistance from a number of people especially Sankara de Kunta and Zachary Babaswe. Werrason went round the country recruiting several young talented musicians and also taking back some old colleagues from JB Mpiana's band. Werrason's original band members were Didier Masela, Adolphe Dominguez, Ferre Gola, Baby Ndombe, Seseli Adjani, JDT Mulopwe, Celeo Scram, Bill Kalondji, Serge Mabiala, Didier Lacoste, Lay Chou, Michael Shendu, guitarists Flam Kapaya (solo), Japonaise Maladi (rhythm), Christian Mwepu (bass), drummers Papay Kakol and Ali Mbonda. His first album, Force d'Intervention Rapide (Rapid Intervention Force) was released end of 1998. His song "Chantal Switzerland" was voted Song of the Year, while his animator Bill 'Clinton' Kalondji was voted the best animator. His second album Solola Bien of 1999 took the African music scene by storm. Solola Bien was rewarded with the Golden Record in France. In the same year, his band Wenge Maison Mère was voted the Best Congolese Group, with Werrason as the Artist of the Year. In June 2001, Werrason released his first solo album Kibuisa Mpimpa, a double CD with 17 titles. This was work that had taken him 5 years of preparation, 4 months of studio work, and over 2000 hours of compositions and philosophical reflection back to his roots. Kibuisa Mpimpa was described as "culturally revolutionary" by observers of African music. This album won him two Kora Awards in South Africa including Best Artist in Africa and Best Album in Central Africa. Later that year Werrason gave one of his very best performances at a double concert (two days) at "the Zenith de Paris,” one of the largest concert halls in France, with a seating capacity of well over 20,000. He also toured extensively major European cities like London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Dublin, Rome and Stockholm. Through his musical innovations, Werrason attracts a new public to embrace the black cultural awareness without being militant. The United Nations have awarded him with the title of Universal Ambassador of Peace. In 2001, Werrason was received in audience by Pope John Paul II. Since then, he dedicates part of his time to all the UNESCO campaigns against AIDS and all sorts of discriminations, and in campaigns against early marriages and promoting education for the girl child. During his world tour he shared performances with great African artists among them Manu Dibango who invited him in his concert at the Paris Olympia. Others were Passi,Doc Gynéco, Benji and Akil who asked him to take part in their musical projects. Werrason also collaborated with international artists like Shaggy. In the same year, Werrason also did a large concert at the Stade des Martyrs which was attended by over 100,000 people. The year 2000 also saw Werrason do one of his best-ever live performances at Bercy in front of over 17,000 fans"3.0". Digitalcongo.net. Retrieved October 19, 2011. "La rumba congolaise". RFI Musique. Retrieved October 19, 2011. Cite error: The named reference tripod1 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). "3.0". Digitalcongo.net. Retrieved October 19, 2011. "3.0". Digitalcongo.net. Retrieved October 19, 2011. "Winners". Koraawards.com. Retrieved October 19, 2011. "Werrason – Grand Entrance – Zenith Paris". YouTube. November 10, 2006. Retrieved October 19, 2011. "3.0". Digitalcongo.net. Retrieved October 19, 2011. "3.0". Digitalcongo.net. Retrieved October 19, 2011. "Werra Son In Hd Titre Les Filles Allez A L'Ecole / Djomegabp". YouTube. April 21, 2011. Retrieved October 19, 2011. "3.0". Digitalcongo.net. Retrieved October 19, 2011. "Werrason – Artiesten 2011". The Hague African Festival. Retrieved October 19, 2011. "Shaggy A Kinshasa !". Echodynamic.oldiblog.com. Retrieved October 19, 2011. "Video Werrason – Stade des Martyrs Kinshasa, RDC Concert van Werrason (Official Myspace) – Myspace Video". Myspace.com. October 13, 2011. Retrieved October 19, 2011. "Entrée des danseurs – Bercy 2000 – Wenge Musica Maison Mère – Werrason – Congo – Dombolo". YouTube. June 16, 2009. Retrieved October 19, 2011.
The fall and rise of Werrason
In 2003, Werrason’s musical career took a major blow when he lost a large number of key band members. These were his deputy and composer Ferre Gola, his chief animator Bill Kalondji, and singer JDT Mulopwe. These members left a few months after other key members (Baby Ndombe, Serge Mabiala and Japonais Maladi) had also left for varied reasons. These former members grouped together and formed a rival musical band called les Marquis de Maison Mère. This period coincided with the time, Werrason could not get European visas for his musical group to go and produce his next album Alerte General and to perform to his fans abroad, who to this day remain one of the key sources of revenue for his band. The following year Werrason parted ways with his then sponsor Bracongo, producers of beer 'Skol'. Werrason was forced to, for the first time, produce an album, Alerte Generale in studios in Congo, which are inferior in quality compared to his favored studios in France. Werrason weathered this storm, rebuild his band and secured a lucrative sponsorship deal with Bralima, producers of beer 'Primus'. In 2004, he finally released Alerte Generale a single with 4 tracks with new talents, Heritier Watananbe, Bonbon Kojack, Taddet, Teka Diabanza, Jitrous etcand then proceeded on a European tour to promote the album. In 2005 in the midst of performances in Africa and Europe and as he reorganized his band Wenge Musica Maison Mère, Werrason continued work on his second solo album Temoignage de Miracle a 14-track double CD which he released early 2005. It was evident that Werrason had bounced back in a big way and by this time had regained his position as the musician with the highest number of fans in Central Africa. That year (2005) Werrason won a KORA award for the best artist in Central Africa beating off a strong field of contenders including Koffi Olomide. To crown his comeback, Werrason visited his province of birth, Kikwit, and did a concert attended by over 200,000 people, and this remains one of the biggest music concerts ever in the African continent. He followed this by another mega performance at Masina."3.0". Digitalcongo.net. Retrieved October 19, 2011. "3.0". Digitalcongo.net. Retrieved October 19, 2011. "3.0". Digitalcongo.net. Retrieved October 19, 2011. "50 Years of Congo Music – Werrason – Winner Five Kora Awards (African Grammy) – Style Moomberg". YouTube. December 31, 2010. Retrieved October 19, 2011. "Werrason & Wenge Maison Mère – Live a Masina 2005". YouTube. January 4, 2011. Retrieved October 19, 2011.
The success of Werrason 'Le Grand Formateur'
True to his nickname "le grand formateur" Werrason dropped his next single Sous Sol an album with new dance styles, guitar and drums that proved revolutionary. Counting on his new talented musicians Heritier Watanabe, Eboa Lotin, Miel de son, Cappucino Bogard,solo guitar master Flam Kapaya, his longtime drummer Papy Kakol, animators Brigade Sabatini and Celeo Scram, seasoned dancers Anya Star, Bibisia Mfwengi, Gisele Yamamoto, Linda Kalome among others, the band enjoyed great success and did a number of major performances attended by tens of thousands in Brazzaville, Angola, Kikwit, Stade de Matadi, Bukavu, Masina, FIKIN among others.
Werrason joined forces, in 2002 in Kinshasa, with the Jamaican superstar Shaggy who, during an interview in CNN recognizes Werrason as “The greatest current African artist”. The album Sous Sol was followed closely by another great album Temps Present-Mayi Ya Sika also a double CD with 15 tracks, in which he gave his band members a chance to develop their singing and composition prowess. Werrason is recognized for his ability and desire to promote, nurture and expose his band members as a way of encouraging them to later confidently pursue their own solo careers. In that album Temps Present – Mayi Ya Sika this was evident as he gave not just the singers, but even the instrumentalists a chance to make their own compositions. Heritier Watanabe once again shone with beautiful songs "Sol demi amour" and "Confession Intime", the young singers Cappuccino Bogard and Eboa Lotin composed beautiful love songs "Point Carre" and "Bula Wa Yo" respectively while his experienced mi-solo guitarist Corean 'Polystar' Acompa, drummer Papy Kakol and Mimiche Bass also got a chance to do their own compositions. A number of former members of Werrason’s Wenge Musica Maison Mère have benefitted from this kind of exposure and have now gone independent. They include Ferre Gola, a high flying former chief d'orchestra in WMMM who presently leads a band called 'les Marquis de Gaulois', Bill Kalondji, former animator now leader of the band le Samurai, JDT Mulopwe a former singer with WMMM presently leading Le Marquis de Maison Mère, and Celeo Scram with his orchestra ‘Plus 9’, among others.
Werrason’s next album Techno Malewa Sans Cesse was released in October 2010. Making use of the continental style ‘Coup De Calle’ and new dance moves, the album received great success across Africa and in Europe, and in it Werrason's versatility was shown. His new young singers Deplik Filla, Fabrice Energie and Cafe Roum were given an opportunity to star in songs composed by Werrason. Werrason followed the release of Techno Malewa Sans Cess with his energetic performances at a packed‘Zenith de Paris’ in March 13, 2010. He later visited Holland, Brussels, Lyon among others. His African performances including at Bukavu‘s Stade de Kadutu will remain long in the memory of many African music fans. In June 2011, Werrason gave a grand performance at Stade de France's Africa Night alongside other Great African artists including Meyway, Magic System and Passi and in the same month released a single Primus Diata Bawu (Werra Son Diata - JUGEMENT Primus - Merlin BOUTON) which introduced the young Merlin Bouton as a lead singer. Merlin displayed maturity of voice, hitting different notes throughout the song in a leading role. Merlin Bouton joined Wenge Musica Maison Merre in 2010. His next album Techno Malewa Suit en Fin was scheduled for release in July 2011. He later on did wonderful performances before he got an accident and was taken to India for treatment. Werrason organises a new album called Desert India Fletche Ingeta. Before the release of this, he released a short maxi single called satellite."Bibisia. Toujours likolo". YouTube. January 14, 2007. Retrieved October 19, 2011. "Werrason – Live Concert Series 5 – Matadi – Temoignage". YouTube. February 3, 2007. Retrieved October 19, 2011. Cite error: The named reference youtube1 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). "Congo – Werrason – Sol Demi Amour". YouTube. January 28, 2009. Retrieved October 19, 2011. "Congo – Werrason – Point Carre in WS". YouTube. January 28, 2009. Retrieved October 19, 2011. "Congo – Werrason – Temps Present – Bulawayo (Eboa Lotin)". YouTube. June 15, 2007. Retrieved October 19, 2011. "Mitterand Champagne [Deplic] – Techno Malewa". YouTube. August 13, 2009. Retrieved October 19, 2011. "Diego Music – Werrason – Techno Malewa – Clip". YouTube. August 13, 2009. Retrieved October 19, 2011. "Salon D'honneur [Café Roum] – Techno Malewa". YouTube. August 13, 2009. Retrieved October 19, 2011. "werrason zenith 2010 youtube.mp4". YouTube. Retrieved October 19, 2011. "Werrason à Bukavu 2010". YouTube. November 3, 2010. Retrieved October 19, 2011. "Werrason Live". YouTube. June 12, 2011. Retrieved October 19, 2011. "Clip Werrason Diata Bawu – Techno malewa suite et fin (Musique congolaise)". YouTube. Retrieved October 19, 2011.
Early history: Werrason in Wenge Musica BCBG 4x5 Tout Terrain
The early part of Werrason's musical career, starting from 1981 was spent in Wenge Musica BCBG 4x4 Tout Terrain, where he was the deputy band leader and the finance director. Initially, between 1981–1985, the band was like a holiday hobby for the members who were all students. In 1985 they began to curtain raise for then big music performers before they decided to begin recording some of their compositions in 1986. Werrason's musical ability begun to show very early in Wenge Musica BCBG 4x4. In 1988, the band released an album, Bouger Bouger that topped charts in Congo for three years and propelled Werrason and his friends to national fame. In this five song album Bouger Bouger Werrason was credited with composing the song "Nicky D". The album had a theme chant called "mulolo", which was elected Song of the Year, but which until today it is not clear who between Werrason and JB Mpiana, composed though each of the two claim it was their original idea. In 1991 the group produced another master class titled'Kin e Bouge' an album that was voted 'Album of the Year 1991'. In it Werrason composed the song "Kaskin". However 1993 was the year that Werrason gained international recognition when he composed the song"Kala Yi Boeing", which was also the title of the group album, an album which received international acclaim. For ten years (between 1987 and 1997) the band enjoyed incredible success throughout Africa and Europe. As the deputy band leader of Wenge Musica 4x4 Tout Terrain Bon Chic Bon Genre, Werrason was credited with composition of key beats that took the African music scene by storm, bringing in great talents like Ferre Gola to the band and also his energy during live performances."Wenge Musica – Kin e Bouge". YouTube. Retrieved October 19, 2011. "Wenge Musica 4x4 - Kala Yi Boeing by kinwebtv.com". YouTube. January 8, 2011. Retrieved October 19, 2011.
The split of Wenge Musica BCBG 4x4 Tout Terrain
In 1995, problems begun to emerge in Wenge Musica BCBG 4x4. Sources of this were, personality clashes, interference from other big bands in Congo that felt threatened by the rise of Wenge Musica BCBG 4x4, disagreements about money and the direction of band and producers and promoters who wished to take advantage of the new stars once they went their separate ways. Band members begun to align themselves around JB Mpiana the band leader and around Werrason, his deputy. The band's tours of Nairobi and later Abidjan revealed growing tensions in the band. In the Nairobi tour where the band was hosted at the grand Marble Arc Hotel, and performed at among others Carnivore, Club Makuti and Safari Park, when not on stage performing, Werrason kept a low profile and could only be seen in company of Adolphe and Didier Masela. In the tension-filled performance in Ivory Coast's commercial city of Abidjan, Werrason and JB Mpiana could not even share a stage leading to the band doing two-part performances with Werrason and JB Mpiana leading each separate session. Apart from Alain Mpela, the musicians that shared the stage with Werrason during this tour (Emelia, Ferre Gola, Adolphe, Masella) all later joined Werrason's band. Upon return to Kinshasa, JB Mpiana released his solo album Faux De L'Amour with support of the band and also with participation of Papa Wemba. This followed an example set by another leading light Prince Alain Makaba, who had in previous year, 1995 released a solo album Poile ou face with the support of the group. However it was during the release of Faux de L'Amour at the Grand Hotel Kinshasa in December 1997, that the band disintegrated. Musicians aligned to the two rivals exchanged words on stage, with Blaise Bula, who was then aligned to JB Mpiana sarcastically telling Werrason, "my friend, you dream, and in your dreams, you would like to be Blaise Bula, JB Mpiana Alain Makaba ... it is allowed to dream, my brother." These happened in presence of Papa Wemba who was a guest.. The concert has come to be known today as'le Concert de la Separation.' This become the turning point for Wenge Musica BCBG 4x4 tout terrain because it meant that Werrason's position in the larger group was not tenable.
After the split of Wenge Musica BCBG 4x4, J.B Mpiana took with him most band members. These were Prince Alain Makaba, Blaise Bula, Alain Mpela, Aimélia Lias, Ficarra, Kusangila, Titina, Al Nzimbi, Theo Bidens, Burkina Faso Mboka Liya, Ekokota and Tutu Calugi. Some key members whom werrason had recruited into the band therefore assumed would join him, instead chose JB Mpiana. This was a very testing time for Werrason and at this time he even contemplated leaving music altogether. After much reflection he decided to soldier on and begun massive recruitment drive of new talent. he brought on board the likes of Bill Kalondji, Papy Kakol and even some members like Ferre Golla who had originally chosen JB Mpiana's band came back. This split brought with it tension between JB Mpiana and Werrason's band. JB Mpiana was the first to release his album titled Titanic on whose cover jacket him and his associates are seen escaping with floaters from a large sinking ship. Observers were quick to link that Titanic to the big band that was the original Wenge Musica BCBG 4x4 which JB now considered a sinking ship. Werrason responded by releasing an album titled, Force de Intervention Rapide. As per tradition of competition between the two, when Werrason released his second album, Solola Bien which in the local language meant ‘speak well’ JB Mpiana launched TH (meaning always humble) in an apparent reaction to Werason's growing success (and some say ego too). Whereas music rivalry is not a new thing, the musical rivalry between Werrason and JB Mpiana of Wenge Musica BCBG, and later with Koffi Olomide of Quarter Latin International has served to shape Werrason's approach to music. It has inspired him to always try to produce very high quality albums and better live shows so as to remain at the top musically.Cite error: The named reference Digitalcongo.net was invoked but never defined (see the help page). "Wenge Musica 4x4 Live in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, 1997, Djodjo Ngonda". YouTube. June 9, 2010. Retrieved October 19, 2011. "LA SEPARATION DE WENGE 3 : WERRA INTERPELLE JB, PAPA WEMBA MET LES POINTS SUR LES i (INEDIT)". YouTube. Retrieved October 19, 2011. "LA SEPARATION DE WENGE 1 : CONCERT FEUX DE L'AMOUR, CONCERT DE LA SEPARATION AU GHK (INEDIT)". YouTube. Retrieved October 19, 2011. "3.0". Digitalcongo.net. Retrieved October 19, 2011. "3.0". Digitalcongo.net. Retrieved October 19, 2011. "3.0". Digitalcongo.net. Retrieved October 19, 2011. "3.0". Digitalcongo.net. Retrieved October 19, 2011. "3.0". Digitalcongo.net. Retrieved October 19, 2011.
Werrason's music awards
WERRASON’S ACHIEVEMENTS AT KORA MUSIC AWARDS, SOUTH AFRICA 1. Best Artist Central Africa (2001) 2. Overall Best Male Artist (2001) 3. Finalist Best Arrangement (2002) 4. Best Artist Central Africa (2004) 5. Overall Best Male Artist (2004) 6. Nominated Best Artist (2005)
Humanitarian action is part of Werrason’s life and personality. He could never be insensible to the misery of the Shegués (children of the streets) who consider him as their father. He dedicates a part of his income and spare time to schools, hospitals and prisons. He is also the founder of the charity the Werrason Foundation that currently welcome more than 400 “shegues”. The main goal of the foundation is not only to make sure those kids do not hang out in the street by providing them a roof and a warm meal but also social activities and education in order to prepare them to get back to a real social life.
The United Nations have awarded him with the title of Universal Ambassador of Peace. In 2001, Werrason was received in audience by Pope John Paul II.
Since then, he dedicates part of his time to all the UNESCO campaigns against AIDS and all sorts of discriminations.See "Werrason Portrait"