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Jean​-​Bosco Mwenda (1952​-​1962)

by Jean-Bosco Mwenda

supported by
Charlie Moonbeam
Charlie Moonbeam thumbnail
Charlie Moonbeam Acoustic folk, big heart, Congolese breeze
agutterfan thumbnail
agutterfan I'd never heard of this artist until it was a new & notable on Bandcamp. Taken from old 78s so there's a warm scratchy sound and of course it's just a voice and a guitar. You don't need to be able to speak Swahili, Sanga & Kiyeke or French. His humanity comes out in his vocals, and his finger picking guitar is intricate and gifted without being showy or ostentatious. A modest man who recorded some great songs, a delightful listen, and a great influence on African guitarists who followed. Favorite track: Masanga.
VWLS thumbnail
VWLS Great release. Masanga has never sounded so warm and full, especially on the vinyl pressing here. The addition of some great unreleased material is a wonderful bonus. Great material and great mastering. Thanks!
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  • MRI-118 12" Black Vinyl
    Record/Vinyl + Digital Album

    Vinyl edition of classics by the great Congolese guitarist Jean-Bosco Mwenda. Remastered from original 78s. Record comes with notes, unseen pics, and full lyric translations.

    Includes unlimited streaming of Jean-Bosco Mwenda (1952-1962) via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.

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Masanga 03:01
Bibi Mulevi 02:45
Mukabe 02:42
Masimango 02:47
Kwa Leza 02:42
Ku Budongo 02:46
Kipenzi We 02:49
Kijana Moja 02:50
Mwami 02:37
Mama Kilio E 02:55


The first full-length LP dedicated to the early work of pioneering Congolese guitarist Jean-Bosco Mwenda!

Jean-Bosco created a totally unique approach to the acoustic guitar in the 1950s, and was perhaps the single greatest influence on early Central and East African guitarists. He was incredibly popular throughout the region, recording 200 sides for local release, and became known worldwide for the stunning guitar line on the song "Masanga."

Despite his renown, he was a private man who insisted that music was a side job, and he focused on running his small businesses in Lubumbashi. While still beloved in Congo, Mwenda's music fell out of popularity globally, and, with few exceptions, these early recordings have not been heard outside of small private collections.

This album features 12 rare songs of beautiful, complex fingerstyle guitar & Mwenda's warm voice, as well as two beloved classics. All tracks are restored from original 78 RPM discs. Vinyl edition includes an insert with full lyric translations, bio, and photos.

"There are many musicians who play my songs, and me, I only play my own."


released June 11, 2019

Songs by Jean-Bosco Mwenda, recorded 1952 - 1962

Original 78 RPM discs provided by Michael Kieffer
Transfers & Audio Restoration by Michael Kieffer
Swahili Translations by Dominic Kakolobango
Sanga & Kiyeke Translations by El Magambo Bin Ali Gulda
French Translations by Cyrus Moussavi & David Diaz Formidoni
Graphic Design by Gordon Ashworth
Cover Photo Provided by Jonathan Ward
Special Thanks to Stephane Mwenda and Elijah Wald

Mississippi Records, 2019


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