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Nigeria’s music maestro, Majek Fashek, dies in New York after prolonged illness

Nigerian music maestro, singer-songwriter and guitarist, Majekodunmi Fasheke, popularly known by his stage name, Majek Fashek, is dead.

He was best known for the 1988 album, Prisoner of Conscience, which included the multiple award-winning single, “Send Down the Rain.”

Known as The Rainmaker, as a result of the popularity of the single, Majek Fashek worked with various artists worldwide, including Tracy Chapman, Jimmy Cliff, Michael Jackson, Snoop Dogg and Beyonce.

His manager, Uzoma Omenka, confirmed the death via a video uploaded on the late singer’s Instagram handle.

According to Omenka, who said he has been getting pressure from all over regarding the passing of the maestro, said, “Yes, it is true that the legend has gone to be with the Lord. But this time I want to say we should all celebrate him, his achievements. He has done a lot for Nigeria and for Africa. Whatever the family decides, I will get to you. This is all I have to say for now.”

Sources said that Majek FAshek died in a hospital in New York on Monday around 5:45pm after a prolonged illness.

His musical career started in the early eighties when, with the stage name Rajesh Kanal, joined the group Jastix with McRoy Gregg, and Drummer Black ‘Rice. The group was best known as the in-house band on the show Music Panorama on NTA Benin, and toured with fellow reggae group The Mandators. Jastix were also session musicians for upcoming reggae singer Edi Rasta, later known as Evi-Edna Ogholi.

In 1988, shortly after Jastix disbanded, he took up stage name, Majek Fashek, signed with Tabansi Records and began a solo career and released the album, Prisoner of Conscience and became Nigeria’s top reggae artist after the song “Send Down The Rain” became the most popular song of the year. And in 1989, he won six Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN) awards for “Song of the Year,” “Album of the Year,” and “Reggae Artist of the Year.”

Fashek’s next album was I&I Experience, which was released in late 1989 under the Tabansi Label.

After leaving Tabansi Records, he signed to CBS Nigeria in the early 1990s and released So Long Too Long. It was included on Putumavo World Music’s first album.

In 1990, he signed to Interscope Records and released the critically acclaimed album Spiti of Love. In 1992, he appeared on ‘Late Night With David Letterman’ in support of his new 1991 album, and performed the song “So Long Too Long” for the television audience.

Flame Tree released The Best of Majek Fashek in 1994 and was later dropped by Interscope before moving to Mango, a division of Island Records, which was more accustomed to marketing reggae internationally.

His first album for the company included a cover version of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.”

He has recorded several albums for various labels since, including Rainmaker for Tuff Gong (1997) and Little Patience for Coral (2004).

Fashek’s musical influences include Bob Marley, whom he resembles vocally, Jimi Hendrix and Fela Kuti.

He was one of the original Nigerian artists to be drawn to the music of the Caribbean, specifically reggae, rather than indigenous hybrids such as fuji, juju but mixed these genres into his own style which he calls ‘Kpankolo.’

The song “My Guitar,” an ode to his favourite instrument, was also heavily influenced by rock.

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