Guinean Singer Mory Kante Dies at 70

Guinean singer Mory Kante, an influential figure in African and world music, has died.

Kante’s son, Balla Kanté told the AFP news agency on Friday 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.

“We saw his condition deteriorate rapidly, but I was still surprised because he’d been through much worse times before,” he said.

Mory Kanté was a Guinean vocalist and player of the kora harp. He was best known internationally for his 1987 hit song “Yé ké yé ké”, which reached number-one in Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands, and Spain. The album it came from, Akwaba Beach, was the best-selling African record of its time.

Kanté was among Africa’s top musicians – including Tiken Jah Fakoly, Amadou & Mariam and the rapper Didier Awadi – that banded together for the recording of “Africa Stop Ebola,” a song offering sound advice aimed at raising awareness in the wake of the Ebola crisis. The song, released in November 2014, transcended public service announcements and sold 250,000 copies with all proceeds going to medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF).

Kanté died at a hospital in the Guinean capital of Conakry, at the age of 70.

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