Haitian singer Mikaben dead at 41 after collapsing on stage in Paris

Mikaben was renowned in Haiti and around the world for his career which spanned 20 years
Mikaben was renowned in Haiti and around the world for his career which spanned 20 years   -   Copyright  Tyler Quick
By Tim Gallagher

Tributes have been paid to Haitian singer Mikaben who died during a concert in the French capital on Saturday night. 

Mikaben was escorted off stage at the Accor Arena and there were gasps from the crowd as he collapsed.

The 41-year-old musician is suspected to have had a cardiac arrest with the arena announcing on Twitter that he died after suffering a seizure on stage and despite the efforts of emergency services.”

The artist, who was the son of singer Lionel Benjamin, leaves behind a daughter, son and a wife Vanessa who is expecting a baby.

Who was Mikaben?

Mikaben was born Michael Benjamin and rose to fame in Haiti and around the world in the 2000s with his hit song ‘Ou Pati’. His father - who is known as “Haitian Santa Claus” due to his popular Christmas music - taught him how to play guitar at 14 leading to his interest in music.

He was beloved in the Haitian music scene and regularly played for carnival audiences on the Caribbean island.

Mikaben went on to collaborate with Haitian music royalty like Alan Cave and DJ Michael Brun and featured on tracks with compas band Carimi.

Sudden shock

The news of Mikaben’s death was greeted with shock and sadness from fans and fellow musicians alike in a country already torn by multiple crises.

Haitian radio stations played his music on repeat while politicians and friends spoke of their grief.

“I’m shocked by the sudden death of the young and very talented artist Michael Benjamin ‘Mikaben’,” the Haitian prime minister, Ariel Henry, said on Twitter.

“We have lost a major figure in Haitian music.”

Wyclef Jean, the Haitian-born rapper and member of hip-hop group the Fugees, called Mikaben “one of the most influential and inspirational young artists of our generation”, in an interview with the Miami Herald newspaper.

“He was a musical genius and that’s what we just lost,” member of the Konpa band Zin, Alex Abellard, told the Haitian Times.

“His writing was very original.

“Just imagine not having that anymore in a country that’s missing so much now. That’s a big loss for our culture globally.”