Category Archives: Obituaries

Samba Star Beth Carvalho Dies at 72

Beth Carvalho

Brazilian vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and composer Beth Carvalho died April 30, 2019 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Elizabeth Santos Leal de Carvalho, better known as Beth Carvalho, was born May 5, 1946 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She was an influential samba artist.

“Beth Carvalho was a Brazilian samba singer, musician, and composer,” said Gabriel Abaroa Jr., President/CEO of the The Latin Recording Academy. “With a career that spanned 50 years filled with multiple acclaimed recordings, Carvalho was known as the “Godmother of Samba” and a historical figure in Brazilian culture.

In 2009 she was recognized with a Latin Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award and at the 13th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards she received a Latin GRAMMY for Best Samba/Pagode Album for Nosso Samba Tá Na Rua.

Carvalho helped bring underrated composers the recognition they deserved, becoming a driving force in the modernization of samba in the ’80s, while preserving its roots. As a philanthropist and activist, she founded various schools to teach samba and used her lyrics to bring awareness of social issues such as poverty and indigenous rights. Our deepest condolences to her family, friends and music lovers during this difficult time.”

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Traditional Breton Singer Yann-Fañch Kemener Dies at 61

Yann-Fañch Kemener

Yann-Fañch Kemener, an influential Breton folk music singer died on March 16, 2019.  He was involved in the revival of a Breton style called Kan ha diskan.

Yann-Fañch Kemener was born April 7, 1957 in Sainte-Tréphine (Côtes-d’Armor), in the heart of Brittany’s Fañch region (France). He grew up in a family of singers and dancers.

Breton was his mother tongue and the transmission was done naturally. At four, he participated in his first fest-noz (Breton night festival) and his first performance on stage was at 15, encouraged by Albert Boloré.

Influenced by the great voices of elders like Mrs. Bertrand, Yann-Fañch performed gwerz (Breton epic folk songs) and other styles at fest-noz events, together with artists such as Marcel Guilloux, Erik Marchand, and Ifig Troadec.

He recorded Deep Songs of Brittany Vol. 1, including the Skolvan Ballade, Gousperrou ar ranned and La Grande Passion. In 1982, the Charles-Cros academy gave him the Grand Prix Heritage for the three album series Deep Songs of Brittany.

In 1988, he founded the influential group Barzaz with Gilles Le Bigot (guitars), Jean-Michel Veillon (flutes), Alain Genty (bass) and David Hopkins (percussion). It became one of the legendary bands of Breton music.

In 1991, he recorded the album Kerzh ‘Ba’ n Dañs’ with the group Skolvan. Later, he met Didier Squiban with whom he recorded three albums, creating a new genre called “gwerz de chambre” (chamber gwerz).

In the early 2000s, Yann-Fañch started a duet with cellist Aldo Ripoche.

In 2010, he was awarded the Knight Medal of the Order of Arts and Letters in 2015.

In 2016, he put together another band, along with Erwann Tobie and Heikki Bourgault under the name Yann-Fañch Kemener Trio. The intention was to entertain the fest-noz.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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Spanish Flamenco Singer Chiquetete dies at 70

Chiquetete

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.

Chiquetete

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.

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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.

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