Jacob Desvarieux (21 November 1955 – 30 July 2021) was a singer, arranger, and music producer. He was a founding member of the band Kassav’.

Biography

Desvarieux’s mother, who travelled often, took him to Guadeloupe when he was three months old. He spent the next years in Guadeloupe and Martinique before moving to Senegal. At the age of 16, while living in Marseille, he formed a rock group called The Bad Grass, which then changed its name to Sweet Bananas. They recorded a track titled Bilboa dance, which played during the credits of a morning game show on RMC.

Upon his return to Paris, Desvarieux met Pierre-Édouard Décimus, with whom he founded the Caribbean music group Kassav’ in 1979. He played a large part in the group’s development and influence at an international level. In 1999, he released a solo album, Euphrasine’s Blues. In 2003, he was featured on a Bisso Na Bisso song, Dis l’heure 2 zouk.

Desvarieux was diabetic, having received a kidney transplant for which he had to take immunosuppressive treatment to fight against potential rejection of the organ. Although he received three doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, he contracted the disease in July 2021. He was hospitalized in Pointe-à-Pitre and placed into a medically-induced coma. However, he died of the disease on 30 July 2021 at the age of 65.

Discography

  • Banzawa (1983)
  • Yélélé (1984)
  • Oh Madiana (1985)
  • Gorée (1986)
  • Euphrasine’s Blues (1999)

Filmography

Cinema

  • Siméon [fr] (1992)
  • Soulwash (2011)
  • Switch (2011)

Television

  • Femmes de loi [fr] (2009)
  • Frères d’armes [fr] (2014–2015)
  • The Young Pope (2016)

Decorations

  • Officer of the Ordre national du Mérite
  • Officer of the Ordre des Artes et des Lettres
  • Officer of the Legion of Honour
  • Officer of the National Order of the Lion (1996)
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