Ricardo Lemvo Mixes Cultures in Song

Ricardo Lemvo

Ricardo Lemvo's fifth album is titled Isabela. Ricardo Lemvo hide caption

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Ricardo Lemvo was born and raised in Congo, but his musical influences stretch across continents. It's a distinctive sound that draws from the guitar-laced rumba of his native Congo and the Spanish-influenced rhythms of the Carribean and South America.

Lemvo says it was a bar next door to his childhood home in Kinshasa, Congo, where he found his first musical inspiration.

"We were bombarded day and night by not only Cuban music, but Congolese music and American rhythm and blues," he says. "It was at that moment that I decided that one day I will have my own band."

His dream came true. Lemvo is touring now with his Los Angeles-based band Makina Loca for their fifth album, Isabela, which he named for his newborn daughter. Staying true to his unique style, Lemvo composed the new album using multiple musical traditions and languages, including his native Congolese Lingala, Spanish, and even one track titled "Elbette," based on a popular Turkish song.

Here, Lemvo discusses the roots of his eclectic style and the inspiration behind Isabela.

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