Remembering Marco

It was with a terrible sadness and shock we received the news that our friend and fellow passenger Marc-Antoine Moreau had died on Wednesday in Paris, of complications arising from malaria.  He was taken away from us just when his life was entering a beautiful new phase, with a new job in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, as head of Universal Africa – the kind of challenge that animated Marco’s dreams. He loved Africa and African music like birds love the air, never feeling better than when he was standing in a ramshackle bar in the downtown bustle of some great African city, ice-cold local beer in his hand, cig between his fingers, checking out new talent.

As one of the founders and key movers of Africa Express, Marco lived and breathed the principle that African music, art and culture shouldn’t be ghettoised or patronised but rather nurtured with respect. He was a sterling presence at our events, always astute in his musical judgement and suggestions – and always up for the craic. The list of bands he managed or helped in some major way is truly astounding. It starts with Amadou and Mariam of course, but also includes Cheick Tidiane Seck, Mamani Keita, Mo DJ, Jupiter and Okwess, K’naan, Chérif M’Baw, Mounir Troudi, Songhoy Blues and so many more.  Cities like Bamako and Kinshasa were almost second homes to him, loving to buzz around bars and neighbourhoods on a moped in search of music, people and life.

Above all, he was a dependable friend. He might have scaled rare heights in his chosen profession, and hob-nobbed with stars and luminaries, but he was always there with a hug, an idea and a huge bucket full of inspiration and enthusiasm. We will miss him terribly, richer as we all are for all the music, the good times, the laughter, the love that he gave us.

Marco…notre ami…may the groove be loud and funky in your heaven, and may the earth rest light upon you here below…