It is a developing story. We’ll update it as confirmed information involves light.
Haitian communities worldwide are reeling following reports Haitian musician Michael “Mikaben” Benjamin died after collapsing on stage immediately after a performance with popular Haitian band, Carimi, during an Oct. 15 anniversary reunion performance in Paris.
Benjamin, who was affectionately often called “Mika,” was 41 years old. Amongst those mourning him are his pregnant wife Vanessa Fanfan, whom he had said is resulting from deliver their child in December 2022, and his father Lionel “Père Noël” Benjamin, also a musician, often called the “Haitian Santa Claus” for his popular Christmas song, Abdenwèl.
The explanation for death has yet to be verified, though reports say the younger Benjamin died from cardiac arrest.
“He was a musical genius and that’s what we just lost,” said Alex Abellard, the maestro of Zin, the Brooklyn-based band that was one in all the founders of the Latest Generation Konpa within the late Eighties.
“His writing was very original,” Abellard said. “Just imagine not having that anymore in a rustic that’s missing a lot now. That’s an enormous loss for our culture globally.”
Benjamin’s musical profession spanned greater than 20 years, after he rose to fame in Haiti and abroad within the early 2000s with major hits like “Ou Pati” and popular collaborations with fellow Haitian Music Industry (HMI) stars like Carimi, Alan Cave and DJ Michael Brun. His range of skills got here in full display after Konpa Kreyol, a well-liked band, split into two groups — Kreyol La and Krezi Mizik — and the latter recruited Benjamin to be its lead singer.
Benjamin’s vocal range made Krezi a tour de force within the Haitian Music Industry. He sang melodies and will captivate a carnival audience, moving throngs of revelers from right to left as they waved their bandanas in near delirium.
Abellard said he remembered Zin touring with Benjamin in Martinique and Guadeloupe. His personality was magnetic, fans adored him and he in turn, took the time to interact with the fans.
“It just crushes me. It crushes me,” said Abellard late Saturday, his voice croaking. “Mikaben was some of the diverse artists that we had. He played all genres. He wasn’t stuck to the Haitian culture. He would bring whatever color he would get everywhere in the world. He was an orgianial . We lost a really talented artist, a really talented producer. He worked with everybody.”
Benjamin is the son of Lionel Benjamin, affectionately often called the “Haitian Santa Claus” for his popular Christmas song, Abdenwèl. The elder Benjamin told The Haitian Times last 12 months that Michael relished music from a young age and enjoyed watching him rehearse.
Benjamin and Fanfan married in November 2020 and had a daughter one 12 months later. In line with his Instagram posts, the pair was expecting their second child in December 2022.
In his last tweet, in French, Benjamin wished his ‘older brothers’ Carimi good luck on the Paris concert and thanked the band for opening doors for musicians like him who got here after the trio.
‘Bonne likelihood a mes grands frères pour ce soir ! Merci d’avoir ouvert la voie pour nous autres qui vous suivons! Nous vous aimons! Haiti vous aime beaucoup! Que l’amour et la lumière vous accompagnent durant le concert ou des milliers de fans seront en Harmonie parfaite avec vous’
Reactions to Mikaben’s death
On social media, Haitian celebrities and fans alike, shocked by videos of Benjamin’s last moments on stage, began sending condolences and sharing how the younger man’s music impacted their lives and represented Haitian culture.