22 May 2020 16:40
The Yé Ké Yé Ké singer's son said he was unable to travel to France for his usual treatment owing to coronavirus-related restrictions The Guinean musician Mory Kanté has died aged 70. His son Balla Kanté told the AFP news agency that his death was the result of untreated chronic health problems. "He suffered from chronic illnesses and often traveled to France for treatment, but that was no longer possible with the coronavirus," said Balla. "We saw his condition deteriorate rapidly, but I was still surprised because he'd been through much worse times before." Kanté died in hospital in the capital, Conakry. Kanté found international success in 1987 with the song Yé Ké Yé Ké.
It was the first African single to sell more than 1m copies, reaching No 1 across several European countries and become a key track in Britain's late 80s club revolution – in 2018, DJ Paul Oakenfold included the Afro Acid Mix of the track on an acid house compilation. Yé Ké Yé Ké's parent album, Akwaba Beach, became the bestselling African record of all time and won the 1988 Victoires de la Musique prize for best Francophone album. "Whether you play kora, balafon or any other instrument, you have to create something that people will not soon forget. Senegalese musician Youssou N'Dour paid tribute, calling Kanté "a baobab of African culture". The president of Guinea, Alpha Condé, said that African culture was in mourning and praised Kanté's "exceptional" career.
The French producer Dimitri from Paris described him as a "great music master". Facebook Twitter Pinterest Mory Kanté: Yé Ké Yé Ké – video Of Malian and Guinean descent, Kanté was born in the village of Albadaria on 29 March 1950. His parents were El Hadj Djeli Fodé Kanté and singer Fatouma Kamissoko, from one of Guinea's best-known families of musicians. Age seven, he was sent from Guinea to Bamako, Mali, to learn to play the kora, the instrument that would later make him famous. He also played balafon. In 1971, age 21, he joined the Rail Band, and later replaced Salif Keïta as the singer. Of his time in the band, he said: "We were young and careless about not thinking about money. In the 1980s, Kanté moved to Paris. His popularity in France saw him nicknamed "the electronic griot". For his 2012 album La Guinéenne, he embraced the golden age of west African music: lyrics in the Guinean Mandinka language accompanied by zouk, funk and reggae. Later in his career, Kanté expressed his pride that he was able to construct an entertainment complex in the village of Nongo, near Conakry, featuring a 1,500-seat auditorium, two sophisticated recording studios and leisure facilities. He also gave guest lectures at universities around the world, expanding on his interest in the industrialisation of culture. As a solo artist, he released 13 studio albums. In 2014, he recorded Africa Stop Ebola alongside artists including Amadou & Mariam, Salif Keïta and Oumou Sangaré. Speaking to the Guardian in 2004, he said he would like to be remembered "as a man of culture, as a citizen of the world who delivers his messages in music, and as a tireless traveller looking to meet and know the people of this world". Conakry (AFP) - Guinean singer Mory Kante, who helped introduce African music to a world audience in the 1980s, died on Friday in the capital Conakry, his son Balla Kante told AFP. Kante is best known for his dance song "Yeke Yeke," which was a huge hit in Africa before becoming a No. 1 in several European countries in 1988. Nicknamed the "electronic griot"--a play on the name for traditional West African musicians and storytellers--Kante died in hospital at the age of 70 after succumbing to untreated health problems. "He suffered from chronic illnesses and often travelled to France for treatment, but that was no longer possible with the coronavirus," Balla Kante said. "We saw his condition deteriorate rapidly, but I was still surprised because he'd been through much worse times before," he added. Born into a celebrated family of griots, Kante played guitar, the kora harp and balafon, in addition to being a singer. And along with Mali's star singer Salif Keita, his songs were among the first from West Africa to achieve widespread success elsewhere of the world. - 'African culture in mourning'- Kante spent much of his youth in Mali, which neighbours his native Guinea, where in the early 1970s he joined the renowned Rail Band in which Keita was also singer. Leaving the band in the 1980s, Kante revolutionised the West African repertoire by going electric and blending traditional Mandingo music with urban grooves. It was his upbeat single "Yeke Yeke" that catapulted him to fame, and brought Mandingo dance music to nightclubs across Europe. The album on which the song was included, "Akwaba Beach," later went on to become one of the best-selling records in sub-Saharan history. Kante moved away from his electric sound during a lull in popularity during the 2000s, opting for accompaniment from more traditional string orchestras. His 2010 album "La Guineenne"--his first in eight years at the time--drew on the large-orchestra sound from West African music's golden age, in the years following independence from former colonial power France. As well as making music, Kante also used his influence for social causes. On Friday, Guinean President Alpha Conde tweeted Kante had been "exceptional" and "a source of pride". "African culture is in mourning," he said. "He leaves a huge legacy for culture, too vast to allow us to mention everything," said Balla Kante. "He also did a lot for culture in his country by building studios, cultural facilities. Above all, he promoted Guinean and African music by making it known throughout the world".