Legendary Senegalese musician Balla Sidibé of Orchestra Baobab dies

Balla Sidibé, the legendary Senegalese musician, was the founder of Orchestra Baobab, regarded as one of Africa’s greatest bands. COURTESY via maxazine

Balla Sidibé, the legendary Senegalese musician and founder of Senegalese group Orchestra Baobab, died on Wednesday in Dakar.

A statement from Senegal’s music association said Sidibé died in his sleep “after a very full day of rehearsals with his musical comrades.”

Local media, meanwhile reported that Sidibé, who was is in his 60s, died after a short illness.

Sidibé’s bandmate Thierno Kouyate told the Senegal Press Agency that the loss of Sidibé was “very difficult” in more ways than one.

“Frankly, we have lost two monumental musicians without compare since he was a singer and a timpani drummer – bringing the two roles together.”

“We are very sad to announce that Balla Sidibé, founder member, lead singer, percussionist and composer of Orchestra Baobab passed away this morning. Balla was a giant of African music and a great and gentle man. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and fellow musicians,” World Circuit, the group’s former record label, said.

Orchestra Baobab, a Senegalese band established in 1970 became one of the most successful African groups of that decade. The band combined Cuban rhythms, soul and jazz with traditional music from Senegal and other parts of Africa.

The group disbanded in the 1980s and reunited in 2001 to widespread critical acclaim.

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