Haitians in shock after sudden death of singer Mikaben in Paris
Haitians paid tribute on Sunday to singer Mikaben, whose shock death the night before during a concert in Paris left his country reeling.
The 41-year-old recording artist, whose real name is Michael Benjamin, suffered a suspected heart attack during a performance Saturday, shocking fans who saw him collapse as he made his way off stage.
He was appearing at the 20,000-capacity Accor Arena in eastern Paris as a guest of Haitian group Carimi.
He “died after suffering a seizure on stage and despite the efforts of emergency services,” the venue announced on Twitter.
Videos on social media show him performing, then suddenly turning and making his way toward the back of the stage.
He collapses in full view of spectators, the music stops and medics are called.
Tributes poured in from across Haiti after his death, with radio stations and venues playing his music on repeat from Saturday night.
“I’m shocked by the sudden death of the young and very talented artist Michael Benjamin ‘Mikaben,’” Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry wrote on Twitter.
“We have lost a major figure in Haitian music.”
Haiti-born rapper Wyclef Jean, of the hip-hop group the Fugees, called him “one of the most influential and inspirational young artists of our generation” in an interview with The Miami Herald newspaper.
“Rest in peace,” he wrote in a tribute on Twitter, with a video showing him with Mikaben. “Gone too soon.”
Former Haitian premier Jean Henry Ceant echoed the praise, hailing Mikaben as “one of the most talented artists of his generation” on Twitter.
In a special broadcast by Magik9 radio, singer Tamara Suffren said his death was “a blow to the country” — a state mired in spiraling security and health crises.
Mikaben, son of famed singer Lionel Benjamin, was born in Haitian capital Port-au-Prince in 1981 and was well-known in the local music scene as a singer, writer and producer.
He featured in several Carimi hits, including “Baby I Missed You” and “Fanm sa Move.”
Smiling and thanking fans, he posted a video to his more than one million followers on Instagram from inside the Accor Arena on Saturday before the concert.
His wife Vanessa, who is pregnant, posted a message thanking people for their prayers but asking for privacy.
“I’m in no condition to talk. I lost my other half and have no words,” she wrote.