Jacob Desvarieux died this Friday, July 31, at the CHU of Guadeloupe, a victim of covid-19. Diabetic and having received a kidney transplant in 2008, the artist was hospitalized on July 12 in an artificial coma.
The co-founder of the Kassav group will have gone to the hospital for a simple routine medical examination, on July 12, and tested positive for covid-19, even though he had already received two doses of the vaccine against the disease, report the Antillean newspapers.
“Jacob Desvarieux was placed in an artificial coma so that we could give him the necessary care. This is a classic medical protocol,” the medical team said in a statement released on 18 July.
Owner of an unmistakable voice known around the world, Jacob had an easy, communicative smile, natural kindness, and exceptional modesty.
It was at the age of ten that the artist began to learn to play the guitar, after his mother, Cécile Desvarieux, offered him one.
Born on November 21, 1955, in Paris, just a few months old, Jacob Desvarieux moved to Guadeloupe, his mother’s island of origin. On Mondays, they moved to Martinique, from where they had to leave after Hurricane Dorothy hit their house.
Allocated in the French metropolis in a bourgeois house, where the mother would be taking care of the housework, the artist and mother had the habit of reading the Bingo magazine, dedicated to the black world. Cécile wanted to discover Africa and it was there that she found the motivation to leave everything behind and go live in Senegal for two years.
In 1979, in Paris, Jacob Desvarieux had a decisive encounter. A musician from Guadeloupe wanted to meet him to talk to him about a visionary project. Pierre-Edouard Décimus wanted to create a group that would return to the origins of the music of the Antilles and that would be known worldwide, and even already had the name in mind: Kassav – in reference to the manioc pancake in Creole.
Kassav’ was gradually formed and from the beginning, Jacob Desvarieux was one of its pillars, along with the Decimus brothers, Pierre-Edouard and Georges. Then Jean-Philippe Marthély, Jocelyne Béroard, and Jean-Claude Naimro joined the group, as did Patrick Saint-Eloi and Claude Vamur. In 1984, Jacob Desvarieux composed a legendary hit in Haiti: Zouk la sé sèl médikaman nou ni. It was this song that gave Kassav’s song its name: zouk. Georges Décimus had written the lyrics.
Millions of albums sold
In 1979 he founded, with Pierre Edouard Decimus, the group Kassav ‘, pioneer of zouk, new music that made the whole planet dance and that sold millions of records.
The French are losing today a talented artist, and a voice is known to all,” responded on Twitter Sébastien Lecornu, the Minister of Overseas, while, on social networks, the tributes of anonymous and relatives the singer and musician, well known in the West Indies, flocked.
“Tonight, the whole of Guadeloupe mourns one of its greatest ambassadors, whose immense talent, values, the kindness of soul and visceral love for his country made him shine far beyond the sphere artistic ”, reacted the president of the departmental council of Guadeloupe, Guy Losbar.