was born in Democratic Republic of Congo, but his grandfathers
were born in São Salvador, northern Angola
so he has a strong connection with that area and wrote a song
about it. Growing up next to a bar in Kinshasa, the popular
Congolese rumba and Cuban music were part and parcel of Ricardo's
everyday life and at age 8 he decided he'd like to be a singer
but he had to keep that desire a secret for some years.
Ricardo attended boarding school in Gombe Matadi, away from
the distractions of the city. However during the school vacations
he listened avidly to his cousin's Cuban record collection.
The emotions and rhythms of this music touched him strongly
although he didn't understand the words.
During another school vacation another cousin helped Ricardo
get a chance to sing in a young band called Mira Mira
In 1972 Ricardo went to study political science in USA where
his father was living. Ricardo's passion for Cuban music continued
and he also loved Mexican rancheras and mariachi. In the 1980s
Ricardo enjoyed the salsa scene in Los Angeles: he made friends
with Niño Jesus from Orquestra Versailles who plays tres
and flute and who later helped in the musical arrangements on
the album Tata Masamba.
Ricardo formed the highly talented and dynamic band Makina Loca
in Los Angeles in 1990 - in Kikongo the name of the band translates
as Dancing in a Trance whereas in Spanish and Portuguese it
means Crazy Machine! His aim was to fuse the common roots of
Congolese rumba and Cuban son montuno, describing the result
as a mosaic of sounds. At one time Ricardo
a guest vocalist with legendary Cuban
Aragon. The band play dance and party music but also some beautiful
ballads such as 'Sani'. Ricardo sings in English, French, Spanish,
Portuguese, Lingala and Kikongo. Lemvo and Makina Loca have
been nominated for several awards and in the American World
Music Awards they were voted the Emerging Artist of 1998. They
have toured in Europe several times and performed at many festivals.
Lemvo's four CDs are, Tata Masamba (1999), Mambo
Yo Yo (1998), São Salvador (2000) and Ay
Valeria! (2003). Congolese guitarist
Bopol Mansiamina features prominently
Two other guitarists from Congo, Syran Mbenza and
Miguel Yamba also play on a couple of tracks on the Mambo
Yo Yo album. The
title track on São
a love story that tells the history of the ancient kingdom of
Kongo whose capital was known as Mbanza Kongo and then called
Listen and read about it in the printed notes with the
The web site www.makinaloca.com
has lots more information including song lyrics.