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Barbara Kanam
Birth name Barbara Kanam Mutund
Also known as African Diva Barbara Kanam
Born (1973-09-27) September 27, 1973 (age 49)
Origin Bukavu, Zaïre (now South Kivu)
Genres Highlife, soukous, Congolese rumba
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, record producer, actress, dancer
Instruments Guitar, vocals
Years active 1991–present
Labels Kanam Music
Associated acts Awilo Longomba, Devotion, Edgar Yonkeu, Fally Ipupa, Francky, Jacob Desvarieux, Kiki Touré, Kone Dodo, Olivier Kimanga

Barbara Kanam (born September 27, 1973) is a Congolese singer-songwriter, music producer and actress.

Early life and work

Kanam was born in Bukavu, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo).

In 1991 (the year she became involved in music) Kanam earned a Brevet de Technicien Supérieur ("Advanced Specialist") degree in international business. She started to sing with and write music for an orchestra band called Devotion but also engaged in formal musical study. Kanam developed her vocal technique at the prestigious Psalmody Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa, and concurrently received guitar lessons. In 1994, after thirteen months of music lessons, Kanam created a musical arrangement for her first tour, the "Acoustic One Woman Show," which toured Central Africa.

In 1995, Kanam settled in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, where she experimented musically by joining a religious choir. She later joined a church ensemble called the "Grace Choir" in Cocody, Ivory Coast, as a regular singer. In 1997, Kanam resumed her studies in international business.

Recording artist

In 1998, Kanam released her first album, Mokili, with producer Kone Dodo, which popularized her in the African music genre, and earned her a Kora Award nomination.

In 2003, she released her second album, Teti, which gained international recognition. She then began touring across Africa and Europe, and earned the following awards:

    • 2003 Kora Award | Best Actress in Johannesburg
    • 2004 Kunde D'Or Award | Best female artist of Central Africa in Ouagadougou
    • 2004 Tamani D'Or Award | Best actress of Central Africa in Bamako

In 2005, with producer Kiki Touré and producer-arranger Edgar Yonkeu, Kanam released a cover of the song "Bibi Madeleine L'argent" (translation: "Money attracts money"), which also featured her fiancé Awilo Longomba. This song was a huge success in Africa, the Caribbean and Europe—especially France. In 2005, she gained recognition at the Black Music Awards in Cotonou, Benin, for best female video.

Her career has included numerous collaborations with artists such as Jacob Desvarieux, and Edgar Yonkeu, with whom she produced African Dance Company in 2006. In 2006, Kanam accepted an invitation to appear on Fally Ipupa's album Droit Chemin in a song entitled 100% Love. Subsequently, Ipupa contributed to a song on Kanam's album entitled Noir et Blanc.

Kanam Music

On June 25, 2009, Kanam and Touré released a third album under the singer-songwriter's own music label, Kanam Music, entitled Karibu (meaning "Welcome" in Swahili). The album became a critical success, with journalists and broadcasters such as Claudy Siar and Yves Robert Brazza Kambala declaring it one of the best releases of 2009. Kanam became a "standard-bearer" for female African musicians.

Later in 2009, the singer received recognition at a United Nations event held at the Sebroko Hotel in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire. Kanam delivered a message of peace over the United Nations radio broadcast airways.


  • Mokili (1999)
    • Mokili Eko Leka
  • Téti (2004)
    • Bibi Madeleine L'argent
    • Téti
    • Jardin d'Amour
    • Réponds-moi]
    • Noir & Blanc, feat Fally Ipupa
  • Karibu (2009)
    • Dada
    • Djarabi
    • Cheri Mupenzi
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