Ray Lema

Ray Lema ( born March 30, 1946 in Lufutoto in the Democratic Republic of Congo) is a Congolese, living in France drummer, percussionist, singer, pianist, guitarist, composer and arranger of African world music.

Lema was born in the Congo, where he studied classical piano in a Catholic seminary in the capital Kinshasa ( he wanted to become a priest and played the church organ at first ) before he attacked addition to guitar, less in the rumba and soukous styles of his homeland, but to play rock - he was a fan of Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and the Beatles. He played in clubs in Kinshasa, where he accompanied musicians like Tabu Ley Rochereau, and Papa Wemba Abeti on the keyboard. In 1974, he toured as a director of the National Theatre of Zaire the country to record the music of more than 250 indigenous ethnic groups and to study and looking for talents in preparation for the establishment of the National Ballet of Zaire.

A few years later he founded the fusion group Ya Tupas. Since it under the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko was banned from performing in Zaire, he went in the late 1970s in the USA (Washington DC), where he studied recording technology and the mix with American musical styles (including jazz ) pursued what he 1979 a Rockefeller scholarship received. Since the early 1980s, he lived in Europe, first in Brussels, then in Paris, where a vibrant African scene exists. He is a multi-instrumentalist and plays in addition to the above instruments, especially percussion and drums, often in complex diverse rhythms of his homeland, which he mixes with European harmonies. Since 1982, he has released several albums, with " Kinshasa - Washington DC - Paris Express" and the two recorded for the label Iceland " Nangadeef " and " Gaia " gained him international greater attention. He also composes for film ( " Fatou la Malienne " and " Fatou l' Espoir ", 2003 album ) and theater and concert larger projects ( like Black Mic Mac, Tam - Tam Pour L' Ethiope in 1984 and a show by Alain Laugenie about Arthur Rimbaud ) and arranged and produced other artists. In 1998, he took the orchestra composed for "The Dream of the Gazelle " on (a collaboration with and commissioned by the Nordic Chamber Orchestra in Sundsvall ).

Currently, he plays solo piano and in a trio with Etienne Mbappe (bass) and Francis Lassus (drums).

In 2003 he received the French Django d'Or.


  • Koteja ( Celluloid, 1982 still recorded in the U.S. )
  • Kinshasa - Washington D.C. Paris Express ( Celluloid, 1983)
  • The Rhythmatist (1984, with Stewart Copeland of The Police )
  • Medecine ( Celluloid, 1985)
  • Bwana Zoulou Gang ( Mad Minute Music / Mélodie, 1988)
  • Nangadeef (Mango / Iceland, 1989)
  • Gaia (Mango / Iceland, 1990)
  • Euro African Suites ( Buda Records, 1992, with Joachim Kühn and Jean -François Jenny -Clark )
  • Ray Lema / Professor Stefanov and the Bulgarian Voices of Ensemble Pirin ( Buda Records, 1992, with the Bulgarian Voices )
  • Un Touareg s'est Marié Avec Une pygmée ( Label Bleu, 1993)
  • Tout Partout ( Buda Records, 1994)
  • Green Light ( Buda Musique, 1996)
  • Stop Time ( Buda Musique, 1997)
  • The Dream of the Gazelle ( Detour / Erato, 1998)
  • Safi ( Buda Musique / USA: Tinder Records, 2000 Tyour Gnawa )
  • Mizila ( One Drop / Noctorne 2004 Solo Piano )
  • Paradox ( Laborie Record / Naive Distribution 2007)
  • Very Special New Production ( 2013)