Les Quatre Étoiles

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(Also known as Quatre Etoiles du Zaire, Quatre Etoiles, 4 Etoiles, 4 Stars, versions with or without the accent on the E, etc.)

Les Quatre Etoiles was a Soukous (the Congolese dance music of the 1980s and 1990s that was immensely popular throughout Africa and elsewhere) musical group, in existence from 1982 to 1996, consisting of the Paris-based Congolese musicians Bopol Mansiamina (bass and rhythm guitar), Wuta Mayi (vocals), Syran Mbenza (lead guitar) and Nyboma (vocals). It was commonly called a "supergroup," since each of the four members of Les Quatre Etoiles have long established individual musical careers.[1][2]

The band was formed in Paris in 1982, upon a request to Syran Mbenza from David Ouattara Moumouni, who produced their first album and released it on his Afro-Rythmes label, although they did not adopt Quatre Etoiles as the band's name until a year and a half later, when they recorded their second album in late 1983;[3]:270-271[4] the first album was recorded in late December 1982, and included one song by each of the four musicians.

When the group formed, each of its four members was a well-known and prolific musician. Based on its members’ negative experiences with bandleaders such as Franco and Tabu Ley Rochereau, Les Quatre Étoiles was a loose-knit arrangement rather than an exclusive one; during its existence, each of its members continued to release solo records, formed other bands, and played as sidemen in support of other musicians (notably including one another);[3]:271[4] as two of many examples, in 1988 Syran Mbenza formed another band, Kass Kass, with Passi Jo and Jean-Papy Ramazani, and all four members of Les Quatres Etoiles played on the 1995 album "Hello, Hello" by Mose Fan Fan and Somo Somo Ngobila.[5][6][7][8]

The band also seemed to involve an egalitarian arrangement among the four members -- for example, several of their albums contained four songs, one written by each band member. Finally, its lineup was flexible - a particular version of the band might be missing one member and/or include other African musicians.[9][10]

Following the end of Les Quatre Etoiles in 1996, in 2000 three of its members (Syran Mbenza, Wuta Mayi, and Nyboma) joined other African musicians to form Kékélé.

The group reunited for at least two concerts in 2010; on June 20, 2010, they played the Afrikafestival Hertme, in the Netherlands, and on July 11, 2010 they played Bozar at Brussels, Belgium, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the independence of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.[11][12][13][14]

Although it is difficult to be complete in listing African recordings, from the discography compiled below it appears that they released seven studio albums and three live albums, although one of the three live albums may be a repackaged version of another.

Their album, Sangonini, was produced by the renowned African music producer Ibrahim Sylla; the song "Doly", from Sangoni, enjoyed worldwide popularity, reaching no. 3 in the Colombian music charts. The song "Papy Sodolo", has been covered by Tabu Ley Rochereau, another African musician of note. Another song, "Sangonini", produced in Paris and released in 1993, has also been popular.

Their polished renditions begin in the Soukous tradition, with a slow, harmonious introduction; this then breaks out, again as in the Soukous tradition, into a fast-paced chorus known as the 'sebene' with resonating, repeated electric guitar rhythms in the background, interwoven with a choice assortment of African percussion instruments accompanied by orchestras.



Title Album Artist Album details Tracks (credits, as listed)
[Afro-Rhythmes Presente] 4 Grandes Vedettes de la Musique Africaine 4 Etoiles [this is on cover, but it might be the album name, given statement above that the band name was not chosen until later]
  • Release date: 1983[15]
  • Label: Afro-Rthymes (Paris, France)
  • Format: LP
  • Mayi (Wuta-May)
  • Mama Iye-Ye (Nyboma)
  • Zouzou (Syran)
  • Maquereau (Bopol)
4 Stars [or (on record label) "4 Super Etoiles" or (first song) "Enfant Bamileke"] Les Quatre Etoiles
  • Release date: 1984[16]
  • Label: Syllart (Paris, France)
  • Format: LP
  • Enfant Bamileke (Wuta May)
  • Mawa Na Ngai (Syran)
  • Luila (Bopol)
  • Nvuna Chantal (Nyboma)
Dance 4 Stars / Etoiles
  • Release date: 1985[17]
  • Label: Tangent (France), GEL (Brazil) (1987)
  • Format: LP
  • Kabyby (Nyboma)
  • Mayanga (Bopol)
  • Ba Relations (Wuta Mayi)
  • Kelele (Syran)
  • 4 Stars (Nyboma, Bopol, Wuta Mayi, Syran)
6 Hits / 6 Tubes Quatre Etoiles / 4 Stars
  • Release date: 1987[18][19]
  • Produced by: Ibrahima Sylla
  • Label: Melodie/Syllart (Paris, France), CBS (Zimbabwe) (different title)
  • Format: LP
  • Zunkuluke (Bopol)
  • Omba (Nyboma)
  • Veroda (Wuta Mayi)
  • Samba (Nyboma)
  • Manque d’occupation (Wuta Mayi)
  • Makani (Syran)
Zairian Stars Show in the US - Kilimanjaro Heritage Hall 4 Stars
  • Release date: 1988[10]
  • Label: Kilimanjaro Int'l Productions (Washington, DC, USA)
  • Format: LP

Based on list of musicians on back cover, Nyboma was not with the band here.

  • Zairian Stars Show in the U.S.: Kouame / Elena / Ayant Droit / Tuti /Zou-Zou (Wuta-Mayi / Don Paolo / Syran M'Benza / Caesar A. Zarsah)
  • Amerika (Blaise Mayanda [= Wuta Mayi])
  • Djina (Don Paolo [= Bopol])
  • Dovi Dina (Syran M'Benza)
Four Stars [also known as Kouame or Live] Four Stars/Quatre Etoiles
  • Release date: 1989[1]
  • Label: Four Stars Production
  • Format: LP

Live album from their 1988 US tour. (Based on similar track names, this may be a repackaging of the "Zairian Stars Show" album from Kilimanjaro.)

  • Kouamé
  • Héléna
  • Ayant droit
  • Tuti
  • Zouzou
  • Amerika
  • Djina
  • Ayite-Dovi
[Eti-Edan 1er Presente] Les 4 Etoiles [also known as Souffrance] Les 4 Etoiles
  • Release date: 1991[20]
  • Label: Celluloid (France)
  • Format: LP
  • Souffrance
  • Nikuze
  • Tukina Kuetu
  • Tantine Oza
  • Adama
  • Mbono Ngomo
Sangonini 4 Etoiles
  • Release date: January 27, 1993[21]
  • Label: Sterns (UK)
  • Format: CD

Includes two tracks from Enfant Bamileke, all of 6 Tubes, plus new material.[4]

  • Loi de la Nature
  • Coup de Fil
  • Doly
  • Papy Sodolo
  • Zunkuluke
  • Omba
  • Veroda
  • Samba
  • Manque d’occupation
  • Makani
  • Enfant Bamileke
  • Luila
Adama Coly 4 Etoiles
  • Release date: 1995[22]
  • Label: Lusafrica (France)
  • Format: CD
  • Alima (Syran Mbenza)
  • Antho (Nyboma)
  • Polygamie (Bopol – Mansiamina)
  • Adama Coly (Wuta May)
  • Nsangu Zimuangane (Bopol)
  • Mimi Tenkolé (Wuta May)
  • Samba Samba (Syran Mbenza)
  • Zouzou (Syran Mbenza)
Live in London Les Quatre Etoiles du Zaire
  • Release date: 1996[23]
  • Label: Air B. Mas Production (Paris, France)
  • Format: CD
  • Kabibi Maria
  • Youyou
  • Papy Sodolo
  • Doly
  • Loi de la Nature
  • Double Double
  • Zunguluke
  • Nina
  • Mado
  • Enfant Bamileke


  1. ^ a b Bessem, Frank. "Les Quatre Etoiles (The Four Stars)". Frank Bessem's Musiques d'Afrique. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  2. ^ "Les Quatre Étoiles - Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  3. ^ a b Stewart, Gary (2000). Rumba on the River : a History of the Popular Music of the Two Congos. Verso. ISBN 1-85984-744-7.
  4. ^ a b c "Quatre Etoiles (Four Stars)". Rumba on the River: website of the book. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
  5. ^ Smith, C.C. "Syran Mbenza". African Musicians Profiles. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
  6. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Mose Fan Fan & Somo Somo Ngobila". www.robertchristgau.com. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  7. ^ "Hello Hello". amazon.com. Stern's. 7 June 1996. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  8. ^ "Mose Fan Fan & Somo Somo - Hello Hello 1995". World News. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  9. ^ Pareles, Jon (3 February 1990). "Review/Pop; Modern Soukous of Zaire By Three of Four Etoiles". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  10. ^ a b "4 Etoiles - Zairean Stars Show In The US - Kilimanjaro Heritage Hall". Discogs. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  11. ^ "African music and European World Music Festivals 2010". Frank Bessem's Musiques d'Afrique. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  12. ^ "4 Etoiles, "Double Double" - AFH493". Afrikafestival Hertme site on Youtube. 13 February 2014. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  13. ^ "Afrikafestival Hertme 2010 - 4 Etoiles part 1". Ton Kraayenvanger on Youtube. 25 October 2010. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  14. ^ "Bozar à Bruxelles: 'African Gospel Day' et concerts de rumba acoustique". Congo Forum. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  15. ^ https://www.discogs.com/Quatre-Etoiles-Afro-Rythmes-Pr%C3%A9sente-4-Grandes-Vedettes-De-La-Musique-Africaine/release/4957372. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  16. ^ https://www.discogs.com/Quatre-%C3%89toiles-4-Super-Etoiles/master/848967. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  17. ^ https://www.discogs.com/Quatre-Etoiles-Dance/release/2920247. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  18. ^ https://www.discogs.com/Quatre-%C3%89toiles-6-Tubes-6-Hits/release/1871191. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  19. ^ "6 Tubes, Quatre Etoiles (4 Etoiles ou 4 Stars)". Afrisson.
  20. ^ https://www.discogs.com/Quatre-Etoiles-Les-4-Etoiles/master/992418. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  21. ^ "4 Étoiles - Sangonini". Boomkat.
  22. ^ https://www.discogs.com/Quatre-Etoiles-Adama-Coly/master/954926. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  23. ^ "Live in London - Quatre Etoiles du Zaire". CDBaby.