By Ollia Horton with RFI
Young Ace Wayé from the Republic of Congo has won the 2020 edition of the Prix Découvertes RFI music awards. Chosen among 10 finalists from across Africa, it was his talent for writing lyrics in French, English and Lingala that won the jury over. He walks away with 10,000 euros in prize money and the chance to go on tour around the continent, as well as put on a show in Paris.
The Prix Découvertes RFI which started in 1981, is designed to highlight musical talent across the African continent. Many of the previous winners have gone on to become international stars, such as Tiken Jah Fakoly (Côte d’Ivoire), Amadou et Mariam (Mali), Rokia Traoré (Mali), Didier Awadi (Sénégal), Soul Bang’s (Guinée).
The singer Céline Banza from the Democratic Republic of Congo won the 2019 edition.
The winner gets 10,000 euros in prize money, as well as help setting up an African tour, plus a concert in Paris. RFI and its partners (Institut français, Organisation Internationale de la francophonie, Sacem and Ubiznews) also offer career mentoring to the competition winner.
This year, the winner is Young Ace Wayé, from Congo-Brazzaville, whose single Mbok’Oyo was a hit with the jury and has garnered considerable success since it was released in December 2019. It explores the difficulties in Congolese cities, where as he says “a beer costs less than food.”
His talent for singing in French, English and the local dialect of Lingala seduced the judges in this year’s jury, presided over by Didi B. Previous jury presidents have included Youssou N’Dour, Angélique Kidjo, and Richard Bona.
Young Ace Wayé fell in love with music at a young age and wrote his first songs with the group Bones Clique, releasing a mixtape called The Bone Theory, in 2014, followed by the EP Dear Uncle Sam later that year.
In 2015, he began a professional solo career, setting up Mercure Studios with an associate.
In 2016, he released Ombres & Lumières : Le Prélude (Shadow and Light; A Prelude) alongside artists such as Boa Mokonzi, Skrappy, Sledge and Darcy under the label Mercure Squad.
He won best new male talent in the Beat Street Awards 2016 and released a mixtape called Kontrol in July 2017, which won him the Beat Street Awards 2017 in the Urban Mixtape category.