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M'bilia Bel highlights the role that female artists have played in the elevation of soukous to the international dance music scene. Some experts believe that the difference between M'bilia or Déesse and most female Congolese artists is their dual talent as singers who can dance, while others are merely dancers who try to sing. Of course it takes a gifted connoisseur like Shiko Mawatu to make such a distinction and to eloquently capture the best out of anyone he works with.
Nyboma Mwan Dido is one of Congo's best vocalists. His sweet vocals have been in demand by many bands, including Soukous Stars. Nowadays, he continues to be successful as one of the lead singers of the Congolese all star super-group Kékélé. His distinct sweet voice and Shiko Mawatu's exceptional guitar interplay have helped their recording sessions gain international acclaim, especially when both worked together in various CD projects with Madilu System and Pepe Kalle.
Josky Kiambukuta is one the great Franco Luambo Makiadi's vocal protégés, carrying on the heritage of the legendary OK Jazz after his death. Despite many problems, he has shown stability for over 30 years. Franco's guys took time to compose original work, contrary to today's musicians who release more songs by relying on technology. So Shiko Mawatu had to work up hard on Josky's CD production considering Franco's high reputation for matching voices with guitars.
Samba Mapangala formed his band Orchestre Virunga, in the early 1980's. The first Virunga album Malako Disco was a huge hit and resulted in a first European release. The original East African style was formed when the many bands that left Congo (then Zaire) to search for new audiences, record companies and studio facilities in Kenya and Tanzania. Shiko Mawatu was in the studio recently to produce a new album with Samba Mapangala which will come out soon.