Death of singer Thione Seck, star of m’balax – release

At Thione Seck, music has always been a family affair. And it is quite naturally that the kid born in Dakar in 1955 is part of the fertile path of a singer father of the Mouride brotherhood, to whom he will also dedicate in 1991 a very beautiful cassette. At this school, he learned to combine in his song the ability to climb the octaves and the ability to inhabit his voice with spiritual fervor. From elementary school onwards, his destiny seemed all mapped out: to follow the same paths as those of his ancestors, griots for generations. First of all in the festivals of his district, before joining established orchestras, on the wise advice of Laye Mboup, blackmailer.

Praises to the divine

The first of them will be the orchestra of saxophonist Bira Gueye, but it is by integrating the Dakar Star Band, which makes the beautiful nights of Miami, one of the best clubs in the capital, that he begins to make heard its grain of voice, as high pitched as of an elastic suppleness. A school of the silver microphone, if we consider that this combo of forts in Latin themes will have given birth to magnificent voices (Laba Sosseh, Mar Seck, Yousou N’Dour to name only three), which he leaves however after a year, to join, in 1973, the Orchestra Baobab, another flagship formation in this Senegal which sails seriously. He will engrave faces that remain half a century later: Face of Senegal or One night at the Jandeer, who left in 1978. At the turn of the 80s, Thione Seck left the training, not without recommending his little brother to replace him, to forge his own path. It will be Driver Bi, mystical music and mythical LP cover, where he sits in front of a red sports coupe. The decade of the 1980s promises to be auspicious for the man who tints his m’balax with arabesques and oriental rhythms.

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This new color in the speedée soundtrack of Senegal eighties, it will be his trademark, even if it means subtly slowing down the pace. This will make the difference in his style, even though the drums and synths incline him to always go up in the towers. This will be the driving force behind Raam Daam, a formation he pilots with his brother Mapenda on board. Praises to the divine then punctuate their poetry (mainly in Wolof) anchored in the most prosaic daily life, as evidenced for example the Power of a pure heart, title could not be more explicit and disc which opens the international networks to him. And this constant inclination towards oriental fashions and worlds, without however denying beautiful Latino inflections, will undoubtedly reach its peak in 2005 with Orientissime, a recording supervised by François Bréant on behalf of the Syllart label. In the middle of a sumptuous carpet of strings, percussions and timbres from Madras and Cairo, his voice rises very high, establishing a bridge as rarely between these two worlds. To be convinced, just listen to his duet with Bombay Jay, one of the stars of Bollywood, on the haunting song Assalo. “Very young, I opted for the oriental, arabic, greek, hindu, flamenco ranges. They have always fascinated me and I am able to compose a whole piece in oriental scale without the help of anyone. But in order not to be uprooted, I always maintain the basic rhythm of my country, the m’balax and, to be understood by the general public, I favor beautiful harmonies and percussions, in particular sabar drums and tablas ”, analyzed the Senegalese from the end of the 1980s.

Fake tickets

This disc, to be a real success, nonetheless completes a fruitful period of more than twenty years in which Thione Seck will have densely published. From then on, he will be much less famous on disc, still recording Diaga in 2010, and making a remarkable passage, thirty-five years later, with the fundamental Orchestra Baobab for a tribute to Ndiouga Dieng in 2017. In the meantime, it is in the judicial chronicle that his name will be found, in a dark case of counterfeit banknotes with twists and turns, for which he will have served nine months in pre-trial detention, before the procedure was canceled for a technical defect in 2019, then resumed a month later, before being abandoned a few days ago. His son Wally B. Seck, the new voice of a Senegal convert to Afropop, with whom he had recorded and who took over the family banner, will support him until the end. Alas, we will never have the end of the story: Thione Seck died of an illness at Fann hospital in Dakar this Sunday, two days after the anniversary of his 66 years.

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