He is a supremely gifted
singer, composer, recording artist, choreographer, storyteller,
artisan of African folk crafts, producer, director, trainer,
and teacher. Mr. Sompa founded the first Congolese dance company
(Tanawa Dance Company) in America. He joined the New York dance
and theater scene, and performed with James Earl Jones and Ann
Miller, along with such jazz greats as Elvin Jones, Eddie Jefferson,
Sun Ra, Ron Carter, Leon Thomas, Pharaoh Sanders, Dave Murray,
Arthur Blythe, Olu Dara, and Chico Freeman, among others, before
relocating in California where he became a magnet for the Congolese
artistic community. Over the years he has trained and nurtured
numerous Congolese artists, including Mbemba Jean Louis, Malonga
Casquelourd, and Samba Ngo, as well as Fred Simpson, Oba Babatunde,
and Monte Hallison, who later became masters in their own right.
In 1988, Mr. Sompa founded Mbongi Dance Theatre Project, a nonprofit
corporation dedicated to advancing and celebrating the cultural
arts of Africa, especially the music and dance of the Congo.
Seeing African culture
as a sustaining force, Mr. Sompa has taken on the responsibility
of preserving and passing on Congolese culture. His task involves
dispelling all the ignorance, mythology and distortions about
Africa, while he makes known the wisdom, variety, beauty, inspiration,
and power of African cultures. Through spirituality, he enables
people to tap into the power within and the guidance of our ancestors.
"African dance is about opening up your heart and bringing
for the essence of your soul. It is a way of letting go,"
he observes. His qualities as a healer, his gentle teaching style
that encourages the student to feel communication with self,
and his commitment to community building, make Mr. Sompa stand
out as an artist. He devotes special attention to young people.
He designs educational programs, primarily for elementary &
high school age students, as well as students of the university,
that teach self-esteem, promote values and behaviors that build
community awareness, and help them imagine a future.