Antione Wendo Kalososy (transformed for some reason into Kolosoy by the kings of the written word) remains one of the emblematic figures of Congolese music from the period before independence in the sixties.

The son of Jules Botuli and Albertine Bolumbu, the singer Wendo Kolosoy is a Nkundo, from the Bandundu province close to the Equator.

A shining star of the Ngoma label, Antoine Wendo Kalososy started very inauspiciously by performing in the streets from 1936. With childhood friends, Wendo took to the streets and surprised many people that never failed to hail his evident talent. The flattery arrived as far as the offices of managers from the Olympia label. So they didn’t hesitate and took the young prodigy under their wing until late 1945, early 1946. But the young Wendo had to leave the label after a spectacular bankruptcy.

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In late 1949 and early 1950 Wendo joined the Ngoma label run by Niko John Jeronimidi, who acted almost like a father for Wendo, who in turn returned the favours.

A brilliant singer and fabulous performer, Wendo Kalosoy took part in nearly all the recordings of his colleagues from 1947. As would happen later to Joseph Kabasele at the Opika label, Wendo found himself singing on all the works of other musicians (for commercial reasons). So Wendo’s voice became synonymous with the production house.

At the peak of his success, Wendo was instructed by the Ngoma label manager to hook up with Léon Bukasa and Manuel D’Oliveira. The three artists created the truculent BOW (Bukasa, Oliveira and Wendo) trio whose work boosted the label’s prestige – and bank accounts. A whole film tracing the life of the megastar Wendo, as well as many of the episodes as an artist, was later remarkably co-directed by Kwami Mambu Nzinga and Mirko Popovitch.

A multi-instrumentalist, guitarist, singer and showman, Antione Wendo Kolosoy created the group Victoria de Kinshasa around 1949-1950. The group was a reply to an earlier group created in Brazzaville by the singer Paul Kamba, whose success nonetheless swung between the two combos.

Antoine Wendo is a singer with a surprisingly finely-tuned voice. He remains the only one to sing in a trademark yodel, the distinctive sound of Tyrolean singing that mixes notes sung from the throat and the head in quick succession. Unlike most of his contemporaries who gave up after the departure of foreign producers from Congo, Wendo Kolosoy was noted after 1960 for his occasional appearances on stage and on record. This is how he toured Europe in 1966 with Ta Bu Ley Rochereau and African Fiesta National which enabled him to get back on stage and record in Brussels. Having become practically the standard bearer of his generation’s musicians, “Tango ya ba Wendo” by Mulumba Mujos illustrated this feeling present in the Congolese collective imagination.

Between 1972 and 1980 the artist took part in programmes such as “Bakolo Miziki”, presented by Mama Angebi and Louise Kanzaku, which featured an impressive selection of musicians of his day on Zairean TV. With the network of musicians, Wendo finally created his last group Victoria Bakolo Miziki, which accompanied him in studio and on tours around the world. The only one of his generation to enjoy a surprising longevity on stage, his strong voice still stunned music lovers that regularly came to savour the vocal prowess of the snappy 80 year-old.

On Ngoma, Wendo created a prolific discography that is difficult to completely quantify with the information that is available.

Wendo died on 07.27.2008 at 83 years old in Kinshasa.


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