Celebrated Haitian musician Mikaben has died. The singer, real name Michael Benjamin, had been performing as a guest of the Haitian group Carimi at the 20,000-seat Accor Arena in Paris, France on Saturday, Oct. 15 when he collapsed on stage. The venue confirmed on Twitter, per The Guardian, that Mikaben "died after suffering a seizure on stage and despite the efforts of emergency services." He was 41.
Video of the moment captured by audience members and later shared on social media showed the moment that Mikaben collapsed as he exited the stage. In the videos, the musician could be seen performing before suddenly turning and making his way toward the back of the stage. Mikaben could then be seen collapsing. The performance immediately stopped and medics were called. According to the Miami Herald, singer Mickael Guirand asked the audience to leave. At this time, Mikaben's cause of death has not been determined, but preliminary reports suggest that he died from cardiac arrest, The Haitian Times reported.
Hier soir lors du concert de Carimi, l’un des chanteurs, Michael Benjamin, Mikaben de son nom d’artiste est décédé suite à un malaise survenu sur scène et malgré l’intervention des secours. pic.twitter.com/zHFRuwyiQg— Accor Arena (@Accor_Arena) October 16, 2022
Born in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince in 1981, Mikaben is the son of iconic singer Lionel Benjamin, affectionately known as the "Haitian Santa Claus" for his popular Christmas song, "Abdenwèl." Mikaben's career spanned more than two decades and began when he was just 15 when he wrote his very first song. He finished fourth with his song, "Nwèl Tristès," in a Christmas concert organized by the Telemax television channel, the St. Vincent Times reported. By the early 200s, Mikaben's career star was rising with major hits like "Ou Pati." His collaborations with fellow Haitian Music Industry (HMI) stars like Carimi, Alan Cave and DJ Michael Brun helped him rise to fame not just in Haiti, but internationally. Mikaben also featured in several Carimi hits, including "Baby I Missed You" and "Fanm sa Move."
News of his passing has prompted a number of tributes online, with Alex Abellard, the maestro of Zin, sharing, "he was a musical genius and that's what we just lost. 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." Ariel Henry, the Haitian prime minister, wrote on Twitter, "I'm shocked by the sudden death of the young and very talented artist Michael Benjamin 'Mikaben.' We have lost a major figure in Haitian music."
Mikaben is survived by his wife, Vanessa Fanfan, who is currently pregnant, and his father. Fanfan expressed gratitude for the outpouring of prayers and tribute in a message and requested privacy.