Haitian singer ‘Mikaben’ dies after collapsing during Paris concert

Michael Benjamin, a Haitian recording artist known by his stage name of “Mikaben,” died Saturday while performing in Paris with the Haitian konpa band CaRiMi, the Miami Herald reported. He was 41.

>> Read more trending news

“This is a shock,” Wyclef Jean, a Haitian-born hip-hop artist and three-time Grammy winner, told the newspaper.

The singer’s cause of death has not been verified, although preliminary reports suggest that he died from cardiac arrest, The Haitian Times reported.

“He was a musical genius and that’s what we just lost,” Alex Abellard, one of the founders of the New Generation Konpa in the late 1980s, told the newspaper.

Mikaben’s death was first confirmed in a tweet by social media influencer Carel Pedre and Frantz Duval, the editor of Haiti’s Le Nouvelliste newspaper, the Herald reported.

Duval, tweeting live from the concert, alerted fans that something was wrong.

Singer Mickael Guirand asked the audience to leave, according to the newspaper.

Benjamin’s musical career spanned more than 20 years. He rose to fame in Haiti and internationally with major hits like “Ou Pati” the Times reported. His 2012 ode to Haiti -- “Ayiti Se” (Haiti is) -- two years after the country’s most devastating earthquake, resonated worldwide.

Benjamin was the son of Lionel Benjamin, known as the “Haitian Santa Claus” for his popular Christmas song, “Abdenwèl,” according to the newspaper.

First known as Mika and then Mikaben, Benjamin wrote his first song when he was 15 and made a name for himself when he finished fourth with his song, “Nwèl Tristès,” in a Christmas concert organized by the Telemax television channel, the St. Vincent Times reported.

Benjamin’s wife, Vanessa Fanfan, is pregnant and expecting their child in December, the Times reported.

“I’m in disbelief,” singer Roberto Martino told the Herald. “This is somebody I was working with for years and considered a brother, a good friend. We talked almost every day. We have a chat together.”

Martino told the newspaper that he spoke with Benjamin shortly before he took the stage in Paris.

“He was so happy. He couldn’t wait to get on that stage with CaRiMi,” Martino told the Herald. “It was one of his biggest accomplishments in life. It’s a band that he idolized. I’m at a lost for words. I’m broken.”