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Celebrating Grand Master Franco


Franco is a towering figure in the cultural life of Africa. Guitar wizard. Prolific composer. Bandleader who groomed the who’s who of Congolese singing royalty. Called “the Balzac of Africa” for his ear and way with a story. He passed in 1989. We’ll revisit Afropop’s 1985 chat with Franco in Kinshasa, hear from some of his contemporaries and relish recording highlights from the 50s to the 80s. 

Looking Back on Franco: An Appreciation



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  • Arthur

    In the mid 80s, I brought Franco’s recording “Non” to a 5 minute music appreciation class presentation. I wanted to see the reaction of Americans who know very little about popular African music. Everyone was to present a piece of music they love and explain what that music means to them. I had two problems: firstly, “Non” was an epic – 15 minutes long, secondly, I do not understand Lingala or better yet, French.

    The music played in its entirety amidst absolute silence. After two encores, the class was long over and not a single question was asked of me. Needless to say that I had an “A” in the class even though I am musically challenged. I have absolutely no talent for music but this was the only course open to fulfill the requirements. Thanks Franco.