Kizomba music was born in Angola (in Luanda) in the 80’s following the influences of traditional Semba music (the predecessor of Samba from Brazil) with zouk and compas music from Kassav from the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. On this basis, kizomba music emerged as a more modern music genre with a sensual touch mixed with African rhythm.[3] Unlike Semba, Kizomba music is characterized by a slower and usually very romantic rhythm. Given that Angola is a former Portuguese colony, Portuguese is the principal language spoken in Angola and thus, also most Kizomba songs are sung in Portuguese. However, kizomba songs initially were sung in Kimbundu and in other National languages of Angola.

The dance style kizomba was connected to the music style of 1981, through “Bibi king of the pace” percussionist of the SOS Band, a group that merged other styles such as méringue and Angolan rhythms to styles developed by contemporary groups; developing a sound more attractive and danceable, that then began circulating in the Angolan “Kizombadas” (parties).[3] One member of this group was Eduardo Paim that after the dissolution of SOS, moved to Portugal taking with him the timing of the kizomba rhythm, which began garnering fans in Lusitanian lands but was mistakenly confused with a variant of Zouk.[3]

Eduardo Paim

—I am the precursor of Kizomba. It was a process that began in the early 80’s with groups called Afro Sound Star, and soon after, SOS. I was inspired by Afro Sound Star, which had already adopted kilapanda as a reference style, and in the mix appeared things that excited me. I gathered a lot of references that I could grab from Semba and our méringue, and these references eventually gave me conditions to unwittingly develop a sound which, face it, people fell in love with. When I arrived in Portugal (with my music), I was highly criticized and they even called it zouk. But it is not zouk. It is kizomba.[3]

Confusions between zouk and kizomba arose after many Cape Verdean emigrants arrived in France in the late 80’s, having had contact with zouk and having mixed it with a traditional Cape Verde style the coladera, creating the cola-zouk; a derivative of zouk, very similar to kizomba and typically sung in Cape Verdean Creole. It is this rhythm that was confused with Kizomba, and was heard in Portugal when Eduardo Paim arrived there and released his first record with kizomba music.

Currently, in Lusophone (Portuguese speaking) countries and communities around the world, due to it being difficult to distinguish between zouk, cola-zouk and Kizomba, all these styles have been called kizombas, however in a rough and generic way, one can say that Zouk is sung in French and French Créole, cola-zouk in Cape Verdean Creole and kizomba in Portuguese or kimbundu.

However, although kizomba was not originally a fusion of Semba and zouk, a version of kizomba arose which was influenced by zouk, and is wrongly being popularised as kizomba; the name was given to this version being “kizouk” or “kizombalove”. This zouk influenced kizomba is becoming very popular throughout the world.[5]

Kizomba is also performed in other lusophone African countries, in Europe, and in the USA. It is known for having a slow, insistent, somewhat harsh, yet sensuous rhythm; the result of electronic percussion. It is danced accompanied by a partner, very smoothly, slowly and sensuously, and with neither tightness nor rigidity. There are frequent simultaneous hip rotations coordinated between dance partners, particularly in the quieter refrains of the music.


Urban Kizz