A Diplomat of Muse...Ambassador of Genre
Bringing New Indie World Music to the "New World"
For over four hundred years, the shores of America have been blessed with an
influx of talents, ideas, and inventions from immigrants that have arrived on her shores. To this very day, America continues to be a "Melting Pot" of culture and ethnicity. However, America is also a great "Musical Melting Pot." The diversity of American music comes from the blend of styles of many different peoples from many lands. Nowhere else on earth is there such a variety of musical genres with the ability to morph freely and grow into new genres and fresh sounds.
If there is one musical artist, songwriter and producer personifies this whole process perfectly...it is surely Wembi. Wembi has contributed dramatically to this "Musical Melting Pot." Although he is fluent in over four different languages, he has become most fluent in the Universal Language of music. He has created and developed the genre of New Indie World Music and brought it to the shores of the "New World." Like many immigrants, Wembi is now proud to call himself an American, but his experience in music and cultures from around the world makes him the perfect diplomat of muse and ambassador of genre.
Out of Africa
The musical history and development of Wembi as an artist is integral to
understand how his genre and style evolved to what it has become today. While
Wembi was born in Europe, he spent much of his childhood in Africa - where his
family origins are. Wembi, (Pronounced Wehm-BEE), is his birth name and he
is named after his grandfather. Ironically, the African name Wembi means "The
Singer." His grandfather, Shungu Wembi, was a Protestant Bishop and was the
first native African to rise and hold position of Bishop in the Methodist Church. It was within this religious setting that Wembi first developed his vocal skills. Throughout most of his early life he participated in church choirs. This gave Wembi a good sense of harmonization and trained his vocal range from an early age.
Even though Wembi was performing in choirs, he had no specific interest in
becoming a songwriter or singer until later in life. Early on, however, he was
exposed to a multitude of musical styles, and was surrounded by a close-knit
family who had a great appreciation for music. Unbeknown to Wembi, this
constant exposure to music was "secretly" training his ear, taunting his muses,
and preparing him for to become what his birth name foretold - a singer.
Wembi's ear began to absorb artists from Africa such as Franco, Miriam Makeba and Ok Jazz, as well as Western European artists like The Beatles. It would be French singer/songwriter Jean-Jacques Goldman that would have a profound effect on Wembi. The works of Goldman refined Wembi's appreciation of melodies, harmony, and balancing lyrics into melody. In addition, his father's love of Classical music gave Wembi vital exposure to artists and composers of the past. Furthermore, Wembi's early travels around the world exposed him to the likes of Bob Marley and Kassav as well as Top 40 American Hits.
Wembi also became intensely interested in movie soundtracks and the pioneers
of the art form of musical scores for the big screen such as Jean-Michel Jarre,
Vangelis and renowned African saxophonist Manu Dibango. He began to pay
attention to movie credits to learn of the composers, eventually becoming
familiar with the works of John Williams, Hanz Zimmer, Henry Mancini and David
Foster. It was the works of these soundtrack composers that would eventually
inspire Wembi to write and compose.
All in all, Wembi had a rare and unique opportunity to absorb diverse musical styles from many different cultures early on in his life. It would be his new home in America that would lead Wembi to become a diplomat of muse and
ambassador of a new genre, but his core talents came...just as civilization did
...out of Africa.
Footprints in the sand of "The New World"
Wembi would eventually arrive in America, and as we will see, literally leave his footprints in the sand on the shores of his new found home. Like many talented immigrants he will also create second chances for himself in a new life in the "Great Musical Melting Pot." Wembi graduated from Lawrence High School in Lawrence New Jersey and became an American citizen. He went onto college in Pennsylvania, studying Political Science in the hopes of being a traditional diplomat. Wembi's music, however, continued to be his true love. His auditory training in performance, production, songwriting and vocals continued as he now became influenced by more artists in America. It was American artists such as Bruce Hornsby, Michael W. Smith and even Ella Fitzgerald that would round out Wembi's musical exposure. America was the perfect place for all the talents Wembi possessed to coalesce. It was as fate would have it, Wembi's years of exposure to styles and genres were now ready to blossom.
It was during his college years that Wembi began his true transformation into music. His passion of creating music had been sparked. He began to teach
himself how to play the piano, how to compose music, and how to fine tune his
ear to melodies and lyrics. He also began to perform publicly while in college.
The culmination and development of Wembi as a musician would come in the late 1990s with the release of his first album, Footprints in the Sand. This album showcased Wembi's unique blend of Soft Rock, Jazz, Worldbeat and New Age Music. Footprints in the Sand became popular quickly on sites such as iTunes, GarageBand.com, and Live365. Tracks such as "Open Your Eyes," "I Never Knew What Love Was," and "Then a Light Came Through" left listeners and fans feeling inspired and refreshed. Wembi's goal was to create an album to yield motivation for those to leave their own imprints in the sand of their life -just as Wembi had done in his. Wembi had now arrived as a musical artist and songwriter. With his first release Footprints in the Sand, he had left the first imprints of a new genre in the sand of the shores of a "New World."
The Birth and Evolution of New Indie World Music
After the successful release of his first project, Wembi continued his evolution as an artist. Already Wembi was writing his own melodies and lyrics and his projects contained solely original works. He formed his own label called MDW Productions and learned how to promote and market his music via the Internet. By the time he was ready to begin his second album project he was now
overseeing all musical arrangements and production. For Wembi, creating music had become a challenge of creating emotion and possibilities. Whether it was in composition, arrangements or production, Wembi chose to think "out of the box."
It was a free flow of creativity fueled by earlier life experiences and past
exposure to the multitudes of styles. Wembi had taken his gifts and harnessed
them from their creation to their completion. He had become a Renaissance man of sorts and his many styles began to melt into one that he could call his
very own. Wembi??s ability to capture Jazz, Rock, Worldbeat and Classical sounds into one flowing style led to his listeners and fans to label his works as New Indie World Music. This new genre is best expressed in his latest project, Second Chances.
Second Chances to Impress
It's within Wembi's latest project that one can experience the true evolution of New Indie World Music. Second Chances, released in early 2008, is an example of Wembi's talents coming to Fruition. Within this work Wembi displays his ability to capture elusive emotions and place them into lyrics and melody. While Second Chances still holds true to the inspirational "Wembi Message" that was within Footprints in the Sand, the new album takes his artistry to an even higher level. You never get a second chance to make a first impression; however, Wembi has no worries, for Second Chances is an impressive work. The album contains thirteen tracks that contain an uplifting and inspiring mood that Wembi fans have anxiously awaited. The album is likely a creative apex for Wembi and his New Indie World Sound. In Tracks such as "To Sassy, Lady Ella, Cab and Bobby McFerrin" Wembi pushes his own creative envelope with a scat Style tribute to Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Cab Calloway and Bobby McFerrin. Only Wembi could bring back Scat singing and make it sound fresh and new all over again. Other tracks such as "Will You Dance With Me" showcase the incredible depth of style Wembi possesses. This piano ballad brings great melody to a market-rich pop sound reminiscent of Seal or Richard Marx. "Ombecha Ambokalola" is a song that shows that Wembi's African roots are still well tapped, but also shows his ability to capture the styles of melody and percussion of artists such as Phil Collins.
All in all, Second Chances has something for everyone. It's the culmination of years of multi-cultural experience that Wembi possesses. Wembi has managed to take a piece of almost every musical genre and integrate and blend the pieces into a whole. At one time Wembi wanted to become a government diplomat with his knowledge of cultures and positive message. Instead, he has become something even greater...a diplomat of muse who creatively speaks the universal language of music and it is with Second Chances that Wembi has become an ambassador of a multi-faceted genre called New Indie World Music. Only fate could lead a child from Europe, to Africa and eventually to the perfect place to melt his styles and experiences into a golden creative treasure - that great "Melting Pot" called America.