Guinean singer Mory Kante, ‘baobab of culture,’ dies at 70

Entertainment

CONAKRY, Guinea (AP) — Guinean singer Mory Kante, an influential figure in African and world music, has died, his family said Friday. He was 70.

Kante brought Guinean, and Mandingo, culture to the world. He was called an ambassador of Afro-Pop music. His song “Yeke Yeke,” released in the late ’80s, has been remixed and covered extensively.

“Guinea and the whole world have lost a great personality,” Kante’s son, Balla Kante, told The Associated Press. “My father was a great personality. We lost a large library today.”

Balla said his father had not been feeling well for quite some time and died in a hospital in the capital, Conakry. He will be tested for COVID-19, his son confirmed.

“He was an elderly man who did a lot and exerted a lot of physical energy,” Balla said.

Born on March 29, 1950 in Albadarya, a small town near Kissidougou in Guinea’s southeast, Kante became known as a distinguished kora player.

He was a member of the Rail Band, formed out of Bamako, Mali, which launched the solo careers of many other musicians including Salif Keita.

Kante’s first international album, “Kourougnègnè,” was released in 1981 and the last one, “La Guinéenne,” in 2012.

Guinea’s President Alpha Conde said the nation was in mourning.

“Thank you, artist,” he wrote on Twitter, calling Kante’s career “exceptional.”

Senegalese musician Youssou N’Dour said he was dismayed by such a great loss.

“I feel a huge void today with the departure of this baobab of African Culture. Rest in peace,” he wrote on his Twitter account.

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Carley Petesch in Dakar, Senegal contributed.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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