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Papa Noel

Due to the fact that Antoine Nedule Monswet was born on Christmas Day 1940, he became popularly known as Papa Noel. He was born in the city of Leopoldville (now Kinshasa) and the music he grew up with was Cuban sones that he heard on a phonograph that his mother had. As we shall see, Papa Noel is currently keeping the Congolese-Cuban vibes very much in the fore of his music. Around 1948 the first Congolese musicians started making their own recordings. His first guitar was a gift from his mother to him when he was very young and he taught himself to play. During his career he has had many accomplishments and collaborations as composer, arranger, producer, guitarist and vocalist. He has played guitar and sung in many different bands, always giving very refined and highly polished performance. Firstly in 1957 he was approached by 2 former members of Franco's OK Jazz to join them in their new group, Rock-a-Mambo. Papa Noel stayed with this band when it relocated across the river to Brazzaville in 1960 and was called Orchestre Bantou. Three years later he left and joined Orchestre African Jazz and in 1968 formed his own band, Orchestre Bamboula. In 1978 Franco asked Noel to play in OK Jazz and he remained with that band until Franco died in 1989. During his time with OK Jazz he went with a few other musicians to make a recording of his own in Brazzaville, Bon Samaritain, making Franco very angry. In 1992 Papa Noel was amongst several veterans from OK Jazz who made a CD Bakitani, then in 1994 he made another of his own, Haute Tension.

On the occasion of his 60th birthday Papa Noel put together tracks from his 1984 and 1994 albums for a new CD, Bel Ami. He joined Sam Mangwana for the CD Galo Negro released in 1998, composing, singing and playing guitar. He is part of the very successful rumba band Kékélé.
Papa Noel's recent memorable live performances include joining Mose Fan Fan at WOMAD 1999 and young Cuban Adan Pedroso in 2000 (there is a CD of their live performance available, entitled Mosala Makasi). He's keeping his Cuban connections very strong by playing with tres player Papi Oviedo and they released a CD, Bana Congo, in 2002. This CD was nominated for a MOBO 2002 award in the category of Best World Music Act! Papa Noel was on stage with the Cuban musicians at WOMAD Reading in 2002 (see photo above), joined by Congolese backing vocalists Nana and Baniel. Papa Noel toured in summer 2004.