A pioneer of world music is dead. According to the Ministry of Culture in his West African homeland of Guinea, singer Mory Kanté, who became internationally known for his hit hit “Yéké yéké”, died Friday in a hospital in the capital Conakry. There was initially no information on the cause of death. Kanté was 70 years old.

The musician, who was born in the south-east of the country, had his first musical successes with the Rail Band of Bamako and was inspired early on by his famous musician colleague Salif Kéita. After his first successes in West Africa, Kanté went to France in the early 1980s and had a high profile there.

The European breakthrough came in 1988 with his catchy tune “Yéké yéké”, which made him one of the stars of the African music scene that is known across the continent. Numerous albums and performances followed worldwide, including in Germany.

He makes Afro music popular

Although he had been trained as a griot – a kind of traditional folk singer and storyteller – Kanté was also enthusiastic about soul, funk and Latin American rhythms early on. He skilfully combined the traditional sounds of his homeland – with instruments such as the Kora harp or the balafon – with western pop elements, making African music internationally popular. Similar to the recently deceased Cameroonian saxophonist Manu Dibango, he hit the western taste of music with it. (dpa / KT)

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