This is a developing story. We will update it as confirmed information is revealed.
Haitian communities around the world are in shock following reports that Haitian musician Michael “Mikaben” Benjamin has died after collapsing on stage immediately following a performance with popular Haitian band, Carimi, during an anniversary meeting on October 15 in Paris.
Benjamin, who was affectionately nicknamed “Mika”, was 41 years old. Among those mourning him are his pregnant wife Vanessa Fanfan, whom he said was due to give birth in December 2022, and his father Lionel “Père Noël” Benjamin, also a musician, known as “Haitian Father Christmas” for his popular Christmas song, Abdenwèl.
The cause of death has yet to be verified, although reports say young Benjamin died of cardiac arrest.
“He was a musical genius and that’s what we just lost,” said Alex Abellard, the maestro of Zin, the Brooklyn-based band that was one of the founders of New Generation Konpa in the late 1980s. 1980s.
“His writing was very original,” Abellard said. “Just imagine not having that in a country that is missing so much now. It’s a great loss to our culture globally.
Benjamin’s musical career spanned more than 20 years, after he rose to fame in Haiti and abroad in the early 2000s with major hits like “Ou Pati” and popular collaborations with other stars of the Haitian music industry (HMI) like Carimi, Alan Cave and DJ Michael. Brown. His range of skills came into full view after Konpa Kreyol, a popular group, split into two groups – Kreyol La and Krezi Mizik – and the latter recruited Benjamin to be its lead singer.
Benjamin’s vocal range has made Krezi a tour de force in the Haitian music industry. He sang melodies and could captivate a carnival audience, moving crowds of revelers from side to side as they waved their bandanas in near delirium.
Abellard said he remembered Zin touring with Benjamin in Martinique and Guadeloupe. His personality was magnetic, the fans loved him and he, in turn, took the time to interact with the fans.
“It just crushes me. It crushes me,” Abellard said late Saturday, his voice hoarse. “Mikaben was one of the most diverse artists we had. He played all genres. not glued to the Haitian culture. He would bring any color he got anywhere in the world. He was an orgiastic. We lost a very talented artist, a very talented producer. He worked with everyone.
Benjamin is the son of Lionel Benjamin, affectionately known as the “Haitian Santa Claus” for his popular Christmas song, Abdenwèl. The eldest Benjamin told The Haitian Times last year that Michael loved music from an early age and enjoyed watching him rehearse.
Benjamin is survived by Fanfan and their daughter. The couple married in November 2020 and had a daughter a year later. According to their Instagram posts, the couple were expecting their second child in December 2022.
In his last tweetin French, Benjamin wished his “older brothers” Carimi good luck at the Paris concert and thanked the band for opening doors for musicians like him who came after the trio.
‘Good luck to my big brothers for tonight! Thank you for paving the way for us who follow you! We love you ! Haiti loves you very much! May love and light accompany you during the concert where thousands of fans will be in perfect harmony with you.
Reactions to Mikaben’s death
On social media, Haitian celebrities and fans, shocked by videos of Benjamin’s last moments on stage, began sending their condolences and sharing the impact of the young man’s music on their lives and their representation of the Haitian culture.