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Senegalese Music Legend Thione Seck Dies At 66

Thione Seck | Image: The New York Times

Thione Seck, one of Senegal’s biggest music stars over the last four decades, died in Dakar on Sunday. He was 66 years old.

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

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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 sung 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 mblalax, 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 advisor 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 ($60 million) were found in his Dakar house.

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

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