Senegalese music legend Thione Seck dies at 66

Thione Ballago Seck, from a family of ‘griot’ singers, was one of the West African country’s most famous musicians.

In this file photo taken on September 9, 2012 Senegalese singer and Culture Minister Youssou Ndour (R) and Senegalese singer Thione Seck (L) perform at a relief concert for flood victims at Dakar's Grand Theatre [File: Seyllou/AFP]
In this file photo taken on September 9, 2012 Senegalese singer and Culture Minister Youssou Ndour (R) and Senegalese singer Thione Seck (L) perform at a relief concert for flood victims at Dakar's Grand Theatre [File: Seyllou/AFP]

Thione Seck, one of Senegal’s biggest music stars over the last 40 years, died at the age of 66 in the capital Dakar on Sunday, his lawyer said.

“He died this morning of an illness at the Fann hospital,” lawyer Ousmane Seye told the AFP news agency, confirming reports in the Senegalese media.

Thione Ballago Seck, from a family of “griot” singers, was one of the West African country’s most famous musicians, alongside Youssou Ndour, Omar Pene, Ismael Lo and his own son, Wally Seck.

In the 1970s he sang in the Orchestre Baobab, known for playing a mix of Afro-Cuban salsa and traditional Senegalese music.

The singer and lyricist founded Raam Daan in the 1980s, which became one of the most popular purveyors of mbalax, a genre combining funk, reggae, dance music and local rhythms.

Some of his hits include Allo Petit, Orientissime and Diaga.

Tributes poured in after his death was announced, with the former mayor of Dakar Khalifa Sall paying tribute to “a true monument of Senegalese music”.

El Hadji Hamidou Kasse, a former journalist and current adviser to President Macky Sall, tweeted that Seck was “one of the artist heros of an era”.

Senegalese media reported that Seck was to be buried in a cemetery in the Dakar area of Yoff on Sunday afternoon.

The singer’s last years were marred by a long-running legal scandal involving counterfeit cash.

He was arrested in May 2015 after fake banknotes worth 50 million euros ($60m) were found in his Dakar house.

He was detained for nine months ahead of a trial but all charges were later dropped.

Source: AFP

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