International artist Jean Paul Wabotaï, originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and considered the golden voice of Africa by the Australian media, is, above all, a singer, an author and a composer. But he is also a dancer, choreographer, percussionist, painter, teacher and has released several albums in France, Spain and Australia, seven of which are for children. Currently is a member of the International Coalition of Artists for the General History of Africa, launched by UNESCO.
At eight years of age, he began singing in the Chem Chem Yetu choir in Kinshasa, where he immersed himself in the traditions of his native land through singing, percussion and dance.
During his youth, driven by a calling, he travelled the continent, with a desire to study religion.
After two years of travel, Jean Paul moved to Paris, where he came into contact with the African community, started boxing, playing football and working as a model. He soon decided to take up dance and later graduated from the school founded by Mutschi Mayé, a former choreographer and playwright at the National Ballet of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Wabotaï joined the Lisanga and Elima African ballets, with whom he danced in Japan as a soloist.
Over the years, his career started to veer towards music and singing. His first work and recordings in France were carried out alongside Angelique Kidjo, Ray Lema, So Kalmery and Cheick Tidiane.
Meanwhile, in Australia, he worked with Tim Finn and Kate Ceberano, an Australian music star, with whom he recorded “Children of the World” on a duet for the album The Spirit of Christmas ’94, which brought together top Australian singers in aid of the Salvation Army.
In 1995, Jean Paul presented Michael Jackson with a copy of his a cappella album No Frontier, on which he sang “Billy Jean“, a unique and comprehensive piece, in which voice and body become musical instruments. Australia surrendered to Wabotaï, who became a headliner at major festivals in the country.
In 1998, having returned to Paris, and not having lost sight of the aim of his trip to Europe, Wabotaï continued his spiritual quest. He composed Chants Sacrés together with Jacques Bouniard as arranger and Marc Mir, the director of the Résonances orchestra. He performed his compositions with various choirs in France and Australia.
His album Bana Congo, recorded with ARB Paris and on which he sang for peace in his war-ravaged country, was followed by a historic concert in Warwick (Australia), which promoted reconciliation between the Aboriginal and white communities, on December 31, 1999 under the auspices of the mayor, Sir Green.
In 2001, Jean Paul launched the project “Jacques Prévert en Rap“, in which nineteen young people from Paris’s nineteenth arrondissement interpreted nineteen texts by Jacques Prévert in rap, slam or a cappella versions.
His passion for teaching song and dance led him to the TV show ‘Star Academy’, to the Black and White Gospel Singers and Emmanuel Djob’s Gospelize It! choir.
In 2010, with the consent of Serge Gainsbourg’s heirs, Warner Chappell Music France and Melody Nelson Publishing, ten texts by Serge Gainsbourg (nine of them unpublished) from the years 1954-1966 were entrusted to Jean Paul Wabotaï, who accepted them as the most precious gift. They would go on to become the AmourS Gainsbourg album.
Wabotaï recorded “Photo Kabbo“, together with David Giro, for the Spanish film Magic Journey to Africa, from Jordi Llompart. Jean Paul wrote lyrics to accompany the music and created the equivalent of a chorus, with only his voice.
In 2012, Wabotaï completed his album Circle Songs, released on Buda Musique- Universal, an initiatory journey in sound that invites us to discover his new music, circular singing.
In 2013, in collaboration with Michel Rotter, Lo and Isabel Colomer, Jean Paul signed Notre Histoire du Gospel (Our History of Gospel), a book that compiles testimonies from the masters of gospel and passionate fans in France, Belgium and Spain.
Jean Paul is also a painter. Meeting the Aborigines of northern Australia left a deep mark on him. Since 1996, he has been creating paintings using collage, everyday materials and precious stones.
On June 10th, 1998 he had a premonitory dream: France would win the soccer World Cup. He immediately made a unique canvas embedded with three one-carat diamonds, meant to symbolize the three winning goals of the French team, and forty-two one-carat cubic zircons. On the following 11th of July, the team in blue scored three goals, thus becoming world champions.
So as to make a contribution to literacy in Africa, Jean Paul created the CD book Alphabet Africa, in collaboration with designer and illustrator Isabel Colomer. Larousse publishing house in Spain published two versions in 2010: Vox Alphabet in English and Abecedario Vox in Spanish. In 2013 El meu primer abecedari, the Catalan version, (My first alphabet) came out, published by Edicions 62. Other versions are planned.
In 2012, after several trips to Brazzaville (the Republic of the Congo), Jean Paul, along with his association “Enfants du Congo – Enfants du Monde” (Children of the Congo – Children of the World), opened the Maison d’Éducation pour Tous (the House of Education for All) with the support of the Mama Yakala association. The centre offers free classes for children and adults.
With the same goal in mind, he does a literacy programme that airs on Wednesdays on the DRTV International channel in Brazzaville.
September 2014 in Brazzaville he launches the 1st African Alphabet Festival with sponsorship from the newspaper Les Dépêches de Brazzaville and the Parisian art bookshop Librairie-Galerie Congo.