Ray Lema was born in the former Kingdom of Kongo. At the age of 11 he entered a minor seminary, where they quickly noticed the natural dispositions of young Lema for music; his seminary studies therefore were accompanied by Gregorian chants, Mozart and Chopin. He left the seminary with 14 and later joined the University of Kinshasa, where he studied chemistry.
In 1974, Ray Lema was appointed Music Director of the National Ballet of Zaire. This experience changed his life and his vision of music forever. He discovered the science and magic of traditional rhythmic wheels and turned himself into a Master Drum.
In 1979 he left for the USA and only went back 32 years later to the today called "Democratic Republic of Congo". His departure for the United States also marks the beginning of a brilliant international career. He finally settled in France in 1982, where he has since resided.
Curious of all musics, precursor and always ready for all musical experiment, Ray Lema became famous in the mid-80s in the World Music who was by the time discovering the African Musics. This relentless pursuit to meet “the Other” gives Ray Lema a completely unclassifiable profile. He has published around twenty albums, all different one from each other, however, marked by a very personal musical language, witnesses of the musical encounters of this amazing traveler-musician and perpetual student as he likes to call himself.
He composes regularly for Theater and Movie trails and has received several awards for his entire career. On stage, Ray Lema gives concerts of piano solo, or piano duet with the French/American pianist Laurent de Wilde, he performs in Afro-jazz quintet or with a vocal trio from Congo. Always open to new musical encounters, he also frequently plays with Symphony orchestras (Brazil, France, China, Cuba).