West African music star Mory Kanté known for hits like Yéké Yéké, has died in Guinea.
According to a report by the BBC, Kanté aged 70, died in hospital on Friday (22.05.20) in Conakry, Guinea, his son Balla Kanté confirmed.
His death was the result of untreated health problems, he said. “He suffered from chronic illnesses and often travelled to France for treatment but that was no longer possible with the coronavirus,” he added.
“We saw his condition deteriorate rapidly, but I was still surprised because he’d been through much worse times before.”
Born in a famous family of “griots” West African musicians and storytellers, the musician had been nicknamed “the electronic griot”, and was known as a distinguished player of kora, a West African harp.
Mory Kanté started music at the age of just seven, when he was sent to Mali to learn to play the kora harp.
In the 1970s, he joined Mali’s legendary group the Rail Band of Bamako and performed alongside the legendary Salif Keita and became the lead singer after Keita left.
His international success came in 1988 when he released his album Akwaba Beach, which includes Yéké Yéké. Millions of copies of Yéké Yéké were sold and Akwaba Beach became the best-selling African album of that time.
He was a goodwill ambassador for international organisations like Unicef, the FAO, UNHCR. He was involved in various humanitarian causes in Africa and Eastern Europe.
Kanté is the latest prominent African musician to pass away, after the recent deaths of Manu Dibango, Aurlus Mabélé, Tony Allen and Idir.