Afro-Funk saxophonist Manu Dijambo has died from complications related to coronavirus. (Photo: Album Cover)
Afro-Funk saxophonist Manu Dijambo has died from complications related to coronavirus. (Photo: Album Cover)

The Associated Press is reporting African jazz-funk great Manu Dibango has died of complications related to COVID-19. Dibango blended African rhythms with funk to become one of the most influential musicians in world dance music. Dibango was hospitalized with an illness “linked to COVID-19,” his official Facebook page said last week. “Soul Makossa” was one of the earliest hits in the nascent world music scene, including a catchy hook copied by some of the world’s biggest pop stars.

The Afro-Funk saxophonist was born December 12, 1933, in the port city of Douala, Cameroon. His parents’ marriage was unusual for the time because his mother came from the Douala ethnic group and his father, who was a civil servant, from the Yabassi. NPR‘s Anastasia Tsioulcas writes about Dibango’s rise to fame:

“In the years after the success of “Soul Makossa,” he collaborated with many famed international artists, including Art Blakey, Herbie Hancock, Don Cherry, Sly and Robbie, Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel, King Sunny Adé, Youssou N’Dour, Hugh Masekela and Fela Kuti.

“Soul Makossa” was originally the B-side for a Dibango 45 RPM single; its refrain was something of a branding exercise for “makossa,” the funky, jazz-tinged dance genre that Dibango pioneered. (Kossa means “dance” in Douala, his mother’s native language.)”

Michael Jackson famously sampled “Soul Makossa” on his 1982 hit song “Wanna Be Startin Something,” on his legendary Thriller LP. The popular phrase “mama-se, mama-sa, ma-makossa” originated from Dibango’s song. Pop superstar Rihanna also sampled the song on her hit song “Don’t Stop the Music,” on her 2008 hit LP Good Girl Gone Bad.

Both were sued by the world music legend with Dibango settling with Jackson in the 2007 lawsuit. The 2009 suit against Fenty was dismissed due to the earlier settlement reached with Jackson.

A private funeral service will be held for the world music legend. Due to the coronavirus epidemic, France is not allowing more than 20 people to congregate for these occasions to limit exposure to the virus. Dibango is survived by four children. He was 86.

Read more at NPR.

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