Mory Kanté, an African singer, acclaimed to have further projected the continent’s music to global audiences with hits ‘Yéké Yéké’, has died in Guinea aged 70.
According to the BBC, Balla Kanté, the late singer’s son, said the vocalist died on Friday while on admission to a hospital at Conakry, the country’s capital city.
While the cause of his death remains unknown, Balla reportedly said that Kanté passed away as a result of a number of untreated but chronic health problems.
“He suffered from chronic illnesses and often traveled to France for treatment but that was no longer possible with the coronavirus,” he was quoted to have said.
“We saw his condition deteriorate rapidly, but I was still surprised because he’d been through much worse times before.”
Born in 1950 into one of Guinea’s best-known families of musicians, Kanté was only seven when he was sent to Mali, where he learned to play the kora harp as well as traditional singing techniques.
He was best known internationally for his 1987 hit song ‘Yé ké yé ké’, which was said to have made it to chart number one in Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands, and Spain.
Akwaba Beach’, the album from which the song came, would later become the best-selling African record of its time.
Among those who have taken to social media to mourn the music star is Youssou N’Dour, a Senegalese musician, who noted, in French, that he felt a huge void on learning of Kanté’s death.
Alpha Condé, the president of Guinea, also took to Twitter to pay tributes, while stating that Kanté’s career had been “exceptional”.