Africa

Who is Sista Clarisse, the icon of Congolese music

The eldest of eight siblings, Sista Clarisse, is one of the few women who carry the banner of Congolese music beyond its borders.

Sista Clarisse, daughter of an agricultural engineer and a schoolteacher, the family of the Congo Brazzaville native, leaves this Central African country after her parents were chosen among the executives who will continue their training in Europe. There, her father obtained a doctorate in economics, and her mother became a pharmacist.

After graduating with a baccalauréat in economics and a start to a university course marked by a lack of support due to the socio-economic situation, Sista Clarisse decided to change her mind, putting her studies aside for music.

“I started university, first in geography and then in economics. But I soon felt bad about it and gave up because I thought it was unfair to have to put in three times as much effort as the others. Without family support, I had to work, pay for my studies, and get good results.”

Start a career!

While her native Congo remained dominated by Rumba, Coupé-décalé, and Soukouss, Sista Clarisse turned her attention to reggae, which she discovered as a teenager. Inspired by Peter Tosh, Max Romeo, and Bob Marley, Sista Clarisse admits to having been seduced by the depth of reggae songs.

Who is Sista Clarisse, the icon of Congolese music
Sista Clarisse

And this is what justifies her choice of this musical genre, which doesn’t attract enough women. “Music came into my life through a small door. Reggae is the first genre I listened to at the age when you start making your own choices. It was the music I felt I could identify with. I could identify with the lyrics I heard. I liked this conscious side, through the lyrics and festive at the same time, through the music,” she says.

Successful

After rather successful performances in reggae evenings, numerous collaborations with some of the great names of world music such as David Koven and the creation of the Kongo Culture platform, or the association Ndako ya Mampila, the one to whom recognize the talents of the author, director of clips, reports, and documentaries, has carved out a place of choice on the music scene through her first album “Fleur Sauvage” released in 2014. Since then, she is considered one of the ambassadors of Congolese music beyond its borders.

Thus, if ascension has always been a source of pride for some, for others, it has always been a reason for self-sacrifice and a high sense of responsibility. This is moreover the case of Sista Clarisse, who, despite its successful hits such as “Rhythm of the jungle”, “Empreinte Digitale”, or even “Remember” always expresses the ambition to reach a wider audience.

“At this stage in my career, you can talk about a career. More than 20 years on stage, in studios, three albums, as many singles, many participations in compilations and mixtapes. My one and only concern is to be audible to a large audience. I want to go further.”

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