After a childhood in Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, Duvelle studied piano and music at Conservatoire de Paris (now CNSMDP). In 1959, he was hired by Société de radiodiffusion de la France d'outremer (SORAFOM), a public broadcasting service founded by Pierre Schaeffer, to help producing radio programs made by Africans. SORAFOM was renamed Office de coopération radiophonique (Ocora) in 1962.
Charles Duvelle travelled in many African countries as a special advisor and, with the support of local broadcasters, began recording traditional musicians to give them a copy of their performance. Then, Duvelle founded the Ocora label in 1962, which eventually started to become one of the greatest catalogues of recorded traditional music.
In 1974, Charles Duvelle went to the USA to compose music for films and to work with various synthesizer manufacturers. He returned in 1990s with the Prophet Series licensed from Kora Sons to release the Ocora back catalogue in remastered versions with new exclusive material.