Home Music Who’s he? Pierre Kwenders is a Congolese-Canadian singer, songwriter and DJ : NPR

Who’s he? Pierre Kwenders is a Congolese-Canadian singer, songwriter and DJ : NPR

Who’s he? Pierre Kwenders is a Congolese-Canadian singer, songwriter and DJ : NPR


A portrait of the artist.

Camille Sauvayre/Pitch Good PR

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Camille Sauvayre/Pitch Good PR

A portrait of the artist.

Camille Sauvayre/Pitch Good PR

Who’s he? Pierre Kwenders is a Congolese-Canadian singer, songwriter and DJ.

  • Hailing from Democratic Republic of Congo, Kwenders immigrated to Canada along with his mom as a youngster, bringing a love of music and celebration with him.
  • After settling in Montreal, Kwenders joined the Afrika Intshiyetu Choir, a neighborhood African church choir that he credit with aligning him along with his path as a musician.
  • Kwenders’ newest album, José Louis and the Paradox of Love, was launched final 12 months. It was awarded the 2022 Polaris Music Prize, an annual award for the 12 months’s greatest Canadian album.

What is the huge deal? Kwenders’ fourth studio album has been re-released in a deluxe version, with a number of new tracks.

  • For Kwenders, the album is an exploration of affection, life and his personal identification. He says he’s sharing the story of “that younger child who left Congo at a really younger age – I used to be 15, 16 years previous – after which I arrived right here and I nonetheless have this concept of what life is meant to be, and all the pieces else that everyone is telling me round me and all that’s related with love.”
  • Love extends to the journey of his understanding of his personal sexuality. Kwenders got here out as homosexual three years in the past, and particulars the expertise within the observe “Your Dream,” the place he reassures his mom and thanks her supporting him on his journey.


What’s he saying? Kwenders spoke with NPR’s Kira Wakeam in regards to the undertaking, and the way it encapsulates the entire distinctive points of his identification.

On his musical origins:

My uncles all the time performed guitar round or there was all the time a guitar round and there have been all the time folks singing. And my mother and aunties dancing round.

Singing was all the time a part of each gathering, and the music that we’d play could be over late at evening. Some [would be] previous Congolese rhumba songs at events with issues, and more often than not we had been additionally singing at funerals.

I keep in mind when my great-grandmother died, my uncle wrote a music that every one of us, the nice grandkids, needed to sing on the funeral. And it was one of the vital stunning recollections of my youthful age. And I believe that is simply one thing that was in me. And it took me some time to lastly understand it. And I believe it was that second after I joined the choir that was form of the start of me realizing that that was the trail for me.

On his seamless switching between languages:

Once I began singing, it simply felt proper for me to form of transfer in between these languages and it is also one thing quite common within the Congolese choir as a result of there are over 250 tribes in Congo, so think about what number of tribes there are. So if you go to church, we may begin the mass in French, with one music in French, and the second music may very well be in Lingala and the [next] music may very well be in Swahili and Kikongo after which a music that mixes all of these.

Need extra queer tales? Take heed to Think about This on LGBTQ vets sharing their experiences with ‘Do not Ask Do not Inform’

On the re-release of the album:

Nicely, a few of the songs I had already had. For some cause, it did not really feel proper to place them out on the similar time [as] when the album got here out. And for some cause additionally, It did not really feel proper to carry on to them for the subsequent undertaking as a result of I really feel like I am already some other place. 

I’ve one other story to inform now. And it simply made sense. I used to be like, properly, let’s give these songs as a result of that is additionally a part of the story. And I need to give it to the folks, by the best way, for the subsequent undertaking. And it is form of a little bit reward. And I actually, actually wished folks additionally to take heed to “Vibraçao,” which is one other model of “Heartbeat” that’s that includes Sarah Kalume, a younger artist from Congo. 

So, what now?

  • When he is not within the studio, Kwenders is DJ-ing underground dance events for a whole lot in Montreal.
  • He says: “The album known as José Louis and the Paradox of Love since you ask your self so many questions on who you might be, about who you like, about [how] to like your self, and likewise so as to love folks which can be round you higher.”
  • Kwenders can also be gearing as much as launch his subsequent undertaking: “I believe I have already got the subsequent album achieved. Hopefully by the top of subsequent 12 months, it’s going to be the brand new album and hopefully early subsequent 12 months, new singles.”

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