The coronavirus has taken a toll around the world, and in Paris it was announced that legendary artist, Manu Dibango, a musical pioneer from Cameroon based in France, lost his life today to the coronavirus. He was 86 and is survived by four children. Manu Dibango was an established jazz artist before he began his trademark mixing of African rhythms, funk and rock, first in the late 1960s. The saxophonist gained worldwide stardom with his early 70’s classic “Soul Makossa” and was considered one of the big African music superstars.
His publicist announced he died in a hospital in the Paris region. The Associated Press reported Dibango was hospitalized with an illness “linked to COVID-19,” his official Facebook page said last week. Manu Dibango was one of the first artists I ever got to interview, decades ago, in 1994 at Emerson College's WERS. After a rare show in Cambridge, Massachusetts at The Middle East Cafe, he generously agreed to record an interview the next day at the station. Today on ATC we shared a short clip of him explaining how France played a critical role in his development, starting at a young age, too. Below you can hear the complete half-hour interview with this remarkable man.
Hear his classic "Soul Makossa":