Papa Wemba's pure talent and angelic voice can be traced to his mother, who was a professional funeral singer in Zaire. In the '70s, Zaiko Langa Langa, a student group that included Wemba, set a new standard for Congolese popular music ("soukous") with their youthful lyricism and absence of brass. Wemba later formed his own group, Viva La Musica, and from his home base of Paris created a loose society of the sappeur consisting of elegant, high fashion musicians. Soundchecks took a backseat to the fashion check with Wemba and his large coterie. His Womad appearances and recordings for the Real World label would eventually place him squarely on the world stage. Whether he's trading vocal lines and dancing the latest Congolese dance with the Viva La Musica crew, or singing a catchy Afro-Caribbean song with his international band, Wemba's internationally recognized, soaring vocals and charisma always capture the spotlight.