At 22, Céline Banza is one of the emerging figures of the African music scene. This Congolese singer has gained international visibility thanks to the track “Te Rembi” (“My Body”), released in 2019 and awarded the RFI Discovery Prize. Building on this success, the young artist will release her first album in 2020.
Born in 1997 in Kinshasa, Congo, Céline Banza has been singing since childhood. She developed this early taste for music after moving to Kinsagani, in the centre of the country. There she met choreographers, musicians and rappers for whom she sometimes recorded vocals in the Kabako Studios. In 2012, then aged 15, the young musician performed her first concert on the stage of the city's Alliance Française. Then came the revelation: “It will be music or nothing”.
After completing her state diploma (her baccalaureate), Céline Banza returned to Kinshasa to take a course in musicology at the National Institute of Arts. She took part in a number of music competitions and achieved great success with her track "Te Rembi," an acoustic guitar ballad released in 2019 that questions the perception of women's bodies, from both a male and female perspective.
To appeal to a wide audience, Céline Banza could have written her songs entirely in French or English. But keen to show her identity to the world, she took the radical step of interpreting most of her texts in her native language, Ngbandi, the language of the equatorial province where she grew up. “It’s my culture, my difference”, the singer has often said.
In terms of sound too, Céline Banza remains faithful to her origins by using African tones and rhythms, mixed with more Western pop notes.
Céline Banza’s participation in the show “The Voice Afrique Francophone” in 2017 was a first step towards recognition outside the Congolese borders.
Two years later, her career took off again with the RFI Discovery Prize, which rewards an emerging talent from the French-speaking African scene on an annual basis by offering the winner a tour of the continent, as well as a concert in Paris. When she recalls being awarded this accolade, the singer says that a “beautiful star” fell on her, but that it was also the “result of a lot of work”.
That same year, Céline Banza joined the independent label Bomaye Musik and prepared to record her first album, which is expected to be released in 2020.
Céline Banza takes part in the hit show “The Voice Afrique Francophone”.
She takes part in the future-feminist collective exhibition Kinshasa 2050, les femmes d’abord ! (Kinshasa 2050, Women First!).
The singer wins the RFI Discovery Prize out of 10 finalists with her song “Te Rembi” (My Body).
Céline Banza unveils a new track, “Na Mineli”, which will be part of her debut album.
The Institut français is a partner of the Prix découvertes RFI.
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