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Pepe Kalle

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Pepe Kalle (born: Kabasele Yampanya) was musically and physically huge. Blessed with a multi-octave vocal range and a dynamic stage presence, the six foot three inch, three hundred pound, vocalist recorded more than three hundred songs and twenty albums during his two decade-long career. Known affectionately as "the elephant of African music" and "La Bombe Atomique", Kalle thrilled audiences with his robust performances.

Learning to sing in a church choir, Kalle was mentored by Joseph Kabasele, "Le Grand Kalle", in whose home he lived and worked in exchange for music and vocal training. Making his professional debut as a member of Kabasele's band, African Jazz, Kalle formed his own band, Bella Bella, with singer Nybomba, later of Sam Magwana's African All Stars, in the 1970s. His greatest work, however, came during the 1980s when he formed and performed with Empire Bakumba.

A true showman, Kalle's concerts are remembered for his playful exchanges with a dwarf, Emauro. While he primarily worked with his own band, Kalle collaborated with Zaiko Langa Langa and members of OK Jazz.

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Years Active:

'60s, '70s, '80s, '90s