Mbilia Bel is planning a grand continental tour in 2024, through which she will be bidding farewell to fans and other music lovers.
The belle will ensure the musical tour covers most African countries, at least where she happens to be popular, as she bids farewell to millions of fans, closing curtains on her singing career.
Born on January 10, 1959 and named Marie-Claire Mboyo Moseka, the singer should be clocking 65 years by January 2024.
Despite her six-and-a-half decade age, Marie Mbilia Bel is still energetic, retaining her soothing voice as well as the trademark wiggling torso.
However the diva who is also very popular feels it is high time she called it quits from the stage.
Mbilia Bel revealed what is likely to be shocking news to Rhumba fans during a Television Program in which the diva was being interviewed by Fred Oback Machokaa.
Fred Obach is Kenya’s legendary showbiz personality who presents the popular ‘Roga Roga,’ music platform aired by the Nairobi based Citizen TV and Citizen Radio.
“But at 64 you are still too energetic to quit,” Machoka pointed out.
In fact the program host himself is 70, over 5 years older than the former Afrisa International songbird.
“I intend to spend the remaining part of my life, training upcoming female musicians,” Mbilia Bel explained.
In fact the Diva, who started out her music career with the late Abeti Masikini, plans to establish a special music school in which young artists will be groomed to perfection.
Mbilia Bel boasts ample experience to that effect, having performed with big names in African Music such as the legendary Tabuley Rochereau himself, Sam Mangwana and Robert Kamundele (Rigo Star).
But according to the honey-voiced lady crooner and dancer, it was during her time with Tabuley that she actually mustered plenty of music knowledge from the seigneur who fronted Afrisa International.
Tabuley recruited Mbilia Bel in 1981 and gave her the song ‘Mpeve ya Longo,’ to sing.
But it was through the 1982 hit, ‘Nakei Nairobi,’ (I am going to Nairobi) that suddenly Mbilia became a sensation.
The song’s Kiswahili rendition, ‘Twende Nairobi,’ whose vinyl cut title was changed to ‘Baba Moi,’ in praise of the former Kenyan Head of State, would further cement the singer’s position as leading African songstress.
Still, the 1983 bass guitar-driven number ‘Eswiyo Wapi?,’ (Where did it hurt you?), is an audio vehicle which eventually transported Mbilia Bel into the stardom world she was destined to be.
Eswiyo Wapi, a song about a lady telling off an ex-lover who keeps pestering her, would become a staple in the African music scene. It is still driving people onto the dancefloor 30 years later.
Afterwards she would belt hit after hit, including her duets with Tabuley (Rochereau) such as Loyenge, Ka-Danse Mudande, Residence Marina and Shauri Yako.
Other songs include, Mano Mongba, Boyaye, Yamba Ngai (which used the same bassline feature in Eswiyo Wapi), Ba gerants ya Mabala, Tonton Skol, Balle a Terre, Bameli Soy, Emande, Keyna, Wendenda and La Beauté D’une Femme among many others fire hits.
“But it was Tabuley who essentially used to compose all songs,” Mbilia Bel admits, explaining that her role was simply to interpret them to the masses through her sweet voice.
But her 1989 solo outing, Phenomene featuring Rigo Star’s production, proved to the world that Mbilia Bel could still make it in her own.
The album spawned three major hits, the title track as well as ‘Manzil Manzil,’ and ‘Mayaval.’
It featured guitar works and Arrangement by Rigo Star, with song writing contributions from Franck Curier.
“Nowadays there are no female singers, we have very many girls but very few singers,” stated Mbilia Bel, adding that she intends to change that.
Mbilia conveyed sadness when recalling the life of her former Congolese music colleague, Tshala Muana the queen of Mutuash dance who passed away in 2022.
In fact, with many former lady musicians leaving the stage either by death or retirement, Mbilia feels it is her responsibility to start grooming young successors.
“I will teach them the way Tabuley used to train me,” Mbilia explained, recalling the good old days when her star shone brightly in Rochereau’s band Afrisa International.
In fact the two even married in the mid-eighties and bore a child, a young lady known as Melody an alumnus of the Kenya Utalii College, in Nairobi, who also decided to take up singing, albeit with less success.
They parted ways in 1988 after a successful tour of various African countries, including Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania during the ‘Nadina,’ album promotion, which also featured the new comer, Theresia Kishila Ngoyi, popularly known as ‘Faya Tess.’
The Tanzania Times will soon publish Mbilia Bel’s never heard before story, including behind the scenes episodes and what really transpired between her and Faya Tess.