Matata: Musician, entertainer for decades

Born on the dawn the independence of his country, Jean-Christophe Matata grew up surrounded by the sounds and rhythms of Bujumbura, Burundi’s capital city.

Born on the dawn the independence of his country, Jean-Christophe Matata grew up surrounded by the sounds and rhythms of Bujumbura, Burundi’s capital city.

He made his first step into music at the age of 18, and gained public support, which helped him to develop his career both as a singer and songwriter.

In 1986, Matata moved to Kigali, Rwanda, from where he started a solo career, in music. And as luck would have it, the young talented singer quickly became popular and captured a large audience with his music.

“It was my first tour to Rwanda, but I decided to stay because the country had high-quality studios, which helped me produce quality albums,” says Matata.

The Burundian pop idol, who adored the country’s music industry, joined the African Nile Band in 1984, which was a popular band in the country at the time.

Impressed by the band leader Fabien Bizimana, Matata was asked to produce an album for the band, thus becoming famous at an early age.

His first album ‘Amaso akunda’ (Love is blind), was released April 1987, it was followed by ‘Ihorere Ntusarare’ (Don’t cry), and then ‘Umpora iki’ (Why are you against me), in December.

The three were followed by his famous album ‘Murantunga’, which was released in the spring of October, 1988.

Despite, the fact that some of these albums were released way back, they are still big hits not only in Rwanda and Burundi, but across East Africa.

It was in Bujumbura where he released his fifth album “N’i Nyagasambu rirarema” December, 1990.

The album which earned him the title of “Best Singer of Burundi”, awarded by the Boneka Magazine, published in Paris, France.

The ‘Amaso akunda’ singer often sings about political injustices, and also advocates for peace and security, especially in the Great Lakes Region.

Matata has participated in various international music festivals, for example in Europe, Africa and Canada.

A born-musician and poet, Matata is constantly proving to be more than what many people think he is.

His first album ‘Amaso Akunda’ made him the Burundian Ambassador of Music, and yet his sixth album ‘Nyaranja’ put him at the pedestal of Central and East African music.

His musical styles maestros range from: reggae, traditional blues, Afro-pop, zouk, and slow jam. And music lyrics are composed in different languages: Kirundi, Kinyarwanda, Swahili, French and English.

The songwriter, composer and producer, has produced songs for very many upcoming musicians and some already established artists, especially Africans.

And these include: Cecile Kayirebwa (Rwanda’s Belgium based famous songstress), Benjamin Kayiranga, and Ben Rutabana (Rwanda’s S.Africa based reggae star).

And others like, Jyckey Nyandwi (Burundian singer), Dorvangge Group (Gabon), Tony Vision (Nigeria), and Georgette Pantz (Cameroonian), among others.

“I’m putting my career on traditional music, because I’m proud of my culture, and the language,” Matata says, adding “Sometimes, I pity African artists who go overseas and disguise themselves as African-Americans.”

Matata urges all Africans, especially the artists to always remember their roots, and to be ambassadors wherever they are.

The pop idol, who never thought he would ever get to be a renowned musician, his initial dream was to become a famous footballer.

He is a former member of Vital Football Club, in Bujumbura, but later sidetracked his dream to music, thus joining the music world.

In 1979, he joined Mihingo des Grands Lacs, which is one of the legendary bands in Bujumbura. It is from then that he started exploiting his real talent and started staging concerts.

Matata, a son to Matata Binoit and Marie Theresa Mukabaziga, and the first born in the family of five children, was born in 1960 in Bujumbura, Burundi. He attended his Primary education in Saint Albert, and later joined CEFACOM, a School of Accountancy. 

With more than 200 songs to his credit, Matata longs to conquer the globe with his passion and confidence in the power of love and the strength of peace. But he knows that he cannot be accomplished without the support of his loyal fans and music lovers.

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