Congolese singer Passi Jo has lost his battle with cancer and passed away Sunday, November 6th, 2016 at Melbourne‘s St Vincent Hospital. Passi Jo was an accomplished musician and entertainer who arrived in Melbourne in 1990 after spending many years in Paris where he played with different African musicians, toured Europe, North and South America and many other countries.
Born in Kinshasa to Congo Brazzaville/Angolan parents, he started music when he was still very young and was able to develop his musical career, very quickly, joining local bands and starting his 1st band Super Boboto in Brazzaville. As a young musician at the age of 19, he was part of the musical concert that accompanied the Rumble In The Jungle fight between Muhammed Ali and George Forman in Kinshasa in 1974. At the height of his career, he played with renown Congolese musical figures such as Verkys, Trio Madjesi, Kass Kass, Abeti Masekini, Sam Mangwana, Essous Jean Serges, Teo Blaise, Quatre Etoiles (Four Stars), Tabu Ley and Mose Fan Fan.
Passi Jo first came to Australia in 1990 for a tour with his friend Tchico Tchicaya and he fell in love with the ‘Great Southern Land’ and returned to settle in 1993. In Melbourne, he entertained thousands of Australians with his Soukous music. He was most productive in his Australian experience from 1998 after he was joined by Tchico Tchicaya to form Warako Music, a band that combined sensual Rumba and Soukous grooves, with Cuban Salsa and Afro-beat styles, and showcased some of the most passionate Soukous rhythms and dances. Warako Musica performed regularly at Melbourne’s clubs around Fitzroy and Collingwood including the Prince Patrick Hotel, The Stage Bar and The Night Cat. Passi Jo also played at many multicultural and music festivals around Australia where he marked his presence with his distinctive voice, sound and provocative dancing.
Along with King Bell, Leona Kabemba and the late Baron Matata, Passi Jo was one of the very few musicians who brought the joyful sounds and rhythms of Congo to Australia. Warako Musica was awarded Best Live World Music Act at the Australian Music Industry Awards in 2000 after playing for just two years, and last year, Passi Jo received a Life Time Achievement in musical career Award from Africa Media Australia’s Victorian African Community Awards (VACA 2015). His music also lives on in a cameo role he had in the film Slow West, in which he composed and performed a beautiful song called Mbanza Congo.
In mid-2014, Passi Jo was diagnosed with cancer and spent the last two years undergoing various treatments. Despite his deteriorating health, he was able to visit his ancestral land (Congo Brazzaville) in late 2015 together with his wife, Melbourne photographer Pamela Kleemann. They also went to Paris, Germany and the UK so he could reconnect with more family and many of his musician friends from Kass Kass and other bands. He is survived by Pam, his two children (Congo-Brazza and UK-Europe), five step-children and five grand-children (Congo-Brazza and Australia) and many sisters, brothers and other relatives in Congo Brazzaville, Congo-Kinshasa, France and Germany.