Category Archives: Obituaries

Malian Singer Sali Sidibé Dies at 59

Sali Sidibé

Malian vocalist Sali Sidibé died on February 8, 2019 in Bamako at the age of 59. She was a significant artist from the Wassulu region of Mali.

Born in 1959, Sali Sidibé began her professional music career with an album released in 1980 titled L’enfant chéri du Wassolon (The Darling Child of Wassolon), with vocals in Bambara. Wassoulou Foli (Sterns), produced by Ibrahima Sylla, was her first album widely distributed internationally.


Celebrated Kenyan Musician Ayub Ogada Dies at 63

Ayub Ogada – Photo by Andrew Caitlin

Kenyan musician Ayub Ogada, a virtuoso nyati player, died on Friday, February 1st, 2019. He was 63.

Ayub Ogada, respect Wuod Luo! You are the reason I picked up Nyatiti. Thank you for sharing this fantastic 8 strings instrument with the world. I celebrate you! Rest in Power,” said Kenyan musican Suzanna Owiyo.

In a testimonial, famed vocalist and world music producer Peter Gabriel said: “I was very upset to learn of Ayub Ogada’s death tonight. His was a prodigious talent and when he was on he could mesmerise anyone and everyone within his range with his sensitive and melodic Nyatiti playing, accompanying that legendary gentle and hypnotic voice.

“In the early days of WOMAD and Real World Records many people weren’t interested to listen to music from other cultures and whenever I was trying to convince them I would play Ayub singing ‘Kothbiro’ and invariably win them round.

“It was always a pleasure making music with him and getting to feel that warm sensitive and musical intelligence at work. We will all miss him greatly.

Read more about Ayub Ogada.


Steelpan Maestro Cliff Alexis Dies

Cliff Alexis

Steelpan master and educator Cliff Alexis died on January 29, 2019.

Cliff Alexis was born in Trinidad and Tobago in 1937.  He started playing steelpan at age 14 in various steel bands in the St. James/Woodbrook area.  From 1951 to 1964, Alexis performed in various steel bands such as Trinidad Triopoli, Stereo-Phonics, Invaders and Hit Paraders.  In 1964, Alexis traveled to the United States as a member of the National Steelband of Trinidad and Tobago. He toured the Caribbean, South America, Africa, Europe and the United States with the ensemble.

After the tour, Alexis moved to the United States in 1965.  In Brooklyn, New York, he arranged for BWIA Sunjets, and performed with his own band called Cliff Alexis Trinidad Troubadours.

Alexis was hired by St. Paul Public School District 625 in the state of Minnesota for 12 years, where he worked as a steelband director and tuner.  On two occasions, Alexis received the prestigious Minneapolis/St. Paul “Outstanding Black Musician” award.

In 1985, he joined the staff of the Northern Illinois University School of Music.  Together with Al O’Connor, he created steelpan studies program where students could major in steelpan as a primary instrument.  His responsibilities included maintaining and upgrading the school’s large inventory of steel pans, arranging, composing and co-directing the NIU Steelband with Liam Teague.

He was the recipient of numerous awards from the Percussive Arts Society, Pan Trinbago, Trinidad and Tobago Folk Arts Institute, Northern Illinois University and others. Additionally, he was inducted into the Sunshine Hall of Fame with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002.  In 2011, Alexis was featured in the film titled “Hammer and Steel” produced by the University of Akron and Public Broadcasting System (PBS).

In November, 2013, Alexis was inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame. 


World Music Network Founder Phil Stanton Dies

Phil Stanton and Debashish Bhattacharya

The US-publicist for British world music company World Music Network reported the passing this month of producer and entrepreneur Phil Stanton, co-founder of World Music Network. No further details are available at this time.

UK-based World Music Network was founded in 1994 by husband and wife team, Phil Stanton and Colombian native Sandra Alayón-Stanton. Previously, Phil had set up Riverboat Records, envisioned in 1989 on a leaky barge afloat the Grand Union Canal in London.

World Music Network includes a world music website and four record labels: Riverboat Records, Rough Guides, Introducing and Think Global. The goal is to carry on introducing new listeners to the vast array of glorious global sounds.


Celebrated Zimbabwean Musician Oliver Mtukudzi Dies at 66

Oliver Mtukudzi

Oliver Mtukudzi, one of the most important figures in Zimbabwean music in the past decades, died on January 23, 2019 at the Avenues Clinic in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Oliver Mtukudzi, also known as “Tuku,” was born on September 22, 1952 in Harare. He was an acclaimed guitarist, vocalist, songwriter, composer, actor, philanthropist, human rights activist and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for the southern Africa Region.

For more information, read his full biography.


Spanish Flamenco Singer Chiquetete dies at 70


Spanish flamenco and ballad singer Antonio José Cortés Pantoja, better known as Chiquetete, died in Seville, Spain on December 16, 2019 after surgery complications. He was 70 years old.

Chiquetete (the boy) was born in Algeciras, Cádiz, on July 26, 1948 in a gypsy family.  The household relocated to Seville when he was 8 years old.  At 12, he joined the group Los Algecireños (later called Los Gitanillos del Tardón) with Manuel Molina Jiménez and Manolo Domínguez “El Rubio”.  At that time he adopted the artistic name of his maternal uncle, known as El chiquetete de Jerez.

In 1976, he won the Mairena del Alcor Prize. After that, he began his solo career with the recording Gitano yo he nacio in 1977 and Triana despierta (1979), accompanied by acclaimed guitarists Paco Cepero and Enrique de Melchor.

He was a flamenco singer until 1980. Chiquetete’s LP Altozano meant a radical shift in his career as he entered the romantic ballad genre with flamenco influences. This was followed by Tú y yo in 1981.


In 1988 he released Sevilla sin tu amor, which included one of his greatest hits: A la Puerta de Toledo. A year later he released Canalla, with songs composed by romantic ballad hit maker Juan Pardo, although this album was not as successful as previous efforts.

In the 1990s he released three albums. After retiring for a few years, Chiquetete came back with Como la marea (2004), produced by his son Fran Cortés.

In recent years, Chiquete continued performing traditional flamenco and ballads.


Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Maestro Cyril Pahinui Dies at 68

Cyril Pahinui – Photo by Chelle Pahinui

Cyril Pahinui, one of Hawaii’s finest slack key guitar players died on November 17, 2018. He was 68 years old.

Cyril Pahinui participated in over 50 albums and recorded with a lot of Hawaii’s leading musicians. In 2017, Pahinui was designated a heritage fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts.

For more information, read his biography.


Trinidad Calypso Legend, the Mighty Shadow, Dies

Winston McGarland Bailey, the Mighty Shadow.

The outstanding calypso/soca singer and musician, the Mighty Shadow, died at hospital, in the early hours of Tuesday, October 23, 2018. He was 77.

Ailing for some time, he’d suffered a stroke just days before.

Over the course of 5 decades, he’d stood out with his unique dress(regularly like ‘a minute past midnight’, under a broad-rimmed hat), vertical bounce dance style(a la Masai tribesmen), sound(infused with ‘tambrin’ goatskin-drum and fiddle/violin motifs), and lyrics(‘so serious, they sometimes sounded humorous’).

Born in Belmont, a suburb of Trinidad’s capital, Port of Spain, he grew up, from around age 4, on a farm in the village of Les Coteaux, over on the sister isle, Tobago, and soon took to music, accompanying his musician grandfather, later starting to compose songs(via guitar, primarily).

A strapping 6-footer with a raspy, low register voice, and given to hums, his experiments with ‘walking’, more fluid basslines and rootsy elements began informing a new sound,- the ‘soul of calypso’, which entered the lexicon through fellow musician, Lord Shorty, who added transposed East Indian elements and named it ‘sokah’.

In a tent for the first time in 1970 (under the Mighty Sparrow), he broke through in a big way with “Bassman”, the ‘road march’(, or song played most over the 2 costumed parade days of the country’s pre-Lenten carnival,), and “I Come Out To Play”, in 1974.(“Bassman” opens…’I was planning to forget calypso and go’ plant peas in Tobago…But everytime I lay down in meh’ bed…hearing this bassman in meh head’)

He repeated the feat in 2001, with “Stranger”, which also led to victory in the soca monarch contest.

After narrowly finishing second to the Sparrow 26 years earlier, he prevailed in the national calypso monarch contest in 2000.

Songs about life, philosophy (“My Belief” and “Dingloay” aka “Music), the music industry (1979’s “Dat Soca Boat”, arranged by the influential Art de Coteau, a cracker that featured on the 2011 compilation, ‘Sofrito: Tropical Discotheque’, and “Sing Boy Sing” about piracy), brotherly and romantic love, the ‘dark arts’/bizarre (2001’s “Goumangala”), childhood influences, and, every so often, ‘doing-me-wrong’ competition judges(…with ‘…degrees in stupidity’) made up a vast, varied repertoire.

The classic “Poverty Is Hell” (..,’and the angels are in paradise…”), amazingly, failed to get him into the 1994 calypso final.

Apart from stints in those of the Sparrow, Lord Blakie(‘Victory’), and Lord Kitchener(Calypso Revue), he also appeared with the other tents (multi-artiste venues that operate during the carnival season), such as Kingdom of the Wizards, Spektakula, Kisskidee, and Kaiso House, and in-between, in the a decade from the late 1970’s, ran 2- Master’s Den and Mas Camp.

The Shadow received one of Trinidad+Tobago’s highest civilian honors, the Hummingbird Medal, in 2003, for ‘contribution to the arts’, and was due to receive an honorary doctorate from the University of the West Indies on the weekend of October 26-28, 2018.

Among the many paying tribute was the country’s Prime Minister, Dr Keith Rowley, who said he’d “revolutionized the calypso world with his haunting sound and unique delivery which he crafted and perfected in an impressive catalogue of work spanning several decades.”

He was an original in all his various musical creations. His music told us stories about ourselves through poignant social commentary which was often fused with wry humour. Over the years his contribution to the development of our local music earned him regional and international acclaim”.

Shadow leaves to mourn 5 children, including Shawn and Sharlan, who both followed him into calypso.

Winston McGarland Bailey, calypsonian, ‘the Mighty Shadow’, Oct. 4, 1941-Oct. 23, 2018


Acclaimed Latin Jazz Trumpeter and Percussionist Jerry Gonzalez Dead at 69

Today, the Latin Jazz community is mourning the loss of trumpeter and conguero Jerry Gonzalez. Reports of a fire at his home in the Lavapiés district of Madrid summoned Spain’s National Police and paramedics where they discovered the musician. He was rushed to San Carlos Clinical Hospital where he died hours later. Mr. Gonzalez was 69.

Mr. Gonzalez was born into New York City’s Puerto Rican community on June 5, 1949. The rich world of music was already a staple in the Gonzalez house with Jerry Gonzalez, Sr. serving as a master of ceremonies and a lead singer along with musicians like Claudio Ferrer. His brother and bassist Andy Gonzalez would go on to follow his own musical career, often playing with his brother.

Taking up the trumpet and congas in junior high school, Mr. Gonzalez launched his musical career playing with local bands. After attending the New York College of Music and New York University, Mr. Gonzalez started playing with Lewellyn Matthews and in the 1970s played congas with Dizzy Gillespie and began merging African rhythms into jazz themes. He was a stalwart proponent of Latin music and an indefatigable explorer of the possibilities of Latin Jazz.

Mr. Gonzalez would go on to play with the likes of Jaco Pastorius, Tito Puente, Manny Oquendo and Eddie Palmieri. He found his groove by heading up The Fort Apache Band. Recordings like Ya Yo Me Cure, The River is Deep, Obatala, Pensativo, Calle 54, Rumba Buhaina and Jerry Gonzalez y El Comando de La Clave would soon stack up alongside appearances on Kip Hanrahan’s Coup de Tete, Tito Puente’s On Broadway, Carlos “Patato” Valdes’s Masterpiece, Steve Turre’s Viewpoints on Vibrations, Kirk Lightsey’s Kenny Kirkland, Bobby Hutcherson’s Acoustic Master II and Sonny Fortune’s A Better Understanding.

Jerry Gonzalez

Settling in Spain and lending his talents to flamenco, Mr. Gonzalez appeared with Diego “El Cigala” on Corren Tiempos de Alegria and Picasso en Mis Ojos and Paco de Lucia on Cositas Buenas, as well as collaborated with Javier Limon on La Tierra del Agua and Son de Limon and Andres Calamaro on Obras Incompletas and On the Rock.

Mr. Gonzalez earned film credits as well in Leon Ichaso’ s Crossover, Fernando Trueba’s Calle 54 and Leon Ichaso’s Pinero. In addition to The Fort Apache Band, Mr. Gonzalez also led the quartet El Comando de la Clave with Miguel Blanco.

The General Society of Authors of Spain (SGAE) issued a tweet mourning Mr. Gonzalez’s loss by calling him, “one of the pioneers of Latin Jazz and founder of the legendary group Fort Apache Band.”
No announcement has been made yet on funeral or memorial services