Haitian singer Michael Benjamin, better known as Mikaben, died Oct. 16 after collapsing on stage immediately following his set at a concert in Paris, leaving behind his pregnant wife and two children.
Loved ones of Haitian singer Michael Benjamin, better known as Mikaben, are in shock after the musician's sudden and unexpected death.
Benjamin died Oct. 16 after collapsing on stage immediately following his set at Carimi’s 20th anniversary reunion concert in Paris, France. Benjamin, 41, reportedly suffered a cardiac arrest in front of 20,000 fans and countless others who tuned in to watch the concert's live stream.
"Mika crushed it. Definitely the energy was just surreal, in a sense. And then, as he finished his set, he's walked off, he's walking off with a smile. And I'm right there, literally a couple feet away from him, and he just dropped, hit the floor, and then, that was it," DJ Stakz, who also performed that night, told Inside Edition Digital.
Everyone near Benjamin rushed to his side. "The medical team actually, they were pretty quick, and then they were on it. They were on it immediately, and they started CPR. They realized he had no heart beat, no pulse. They started CPR and then just went from there," he said.
Artist, producer and DJ Michael Brun, who worked closely with Benjamin, said he never imagined something like this happening. He watched on the livestream as Benjamin collapsed. "Every time we performed, he was in great health. He exercised, he ate well," he said.
Benjamin appeared joyful as he performed, and those who watched him saw no signs of an issue before he collapsed.
"I know that in the toughest moment where the slot is so heavy that his experience, he enjoyed it. And you, there's even a few pictures right before this happened where he's smiling. You can see that he was still, he was enjoying it up until the very last moment," Brun said. "So if there's ever a silver lining, that's it for me."
Stakz said he turned to prayer as efforts were being made to revive Benjamin, but he could not be saved.
"It was just a lot of, 'Nah, this can't be happening right now.' ...It was just a lot. It was a lot going on in my mind," Stakz said. "Knowing that, we were just speaking about his family, his wife being pregnant."
Benjamin's wife, Vanessa Fanfan, who is pregnant with their third child, wrote on Instagram that she had “lost her other half."
"Oh mon Dieu, Heavenly Father, I know you don’t make mistakes and you won’t give us what we can’t bare but…this pain is very heavy. Help me please oh merciful Lord," she wrote. "Thank you to those of you who have been praying with me and showing so much support. One day I will tell my kids how their father’s legacy, moved a whole community. I am humbled."
Marie Driven, co-founder of PR firm Playbook MG, signed Benjamin as her client this year. She called him a multilingual talent, noting he spoke English, French, Haitian Creole and Spanish.
"Mikaben is a power tool, not even was. He was not just an artist, he was a leader. I mean I don't know why he didn't run for president, but that's another story," she said. "He's one of those guys that want to leave a legacy wherever he goes. And to me, I feel like he did leave a legacy and we have to still continue the legacy."
Part of that legacy included his charity, Ti Souf, which is Haitian Creole for "breath." The charity is dedicated to raising money for teachers in Haiti.
A GoFundMe campaign has been created to help cover expenses that Mika’s three children will incur throughout their lives, "which will include primary education, college education, medical expenses and savings," the page read.
"Ti Souf ...will also receive a portion," the campaign continued.
As of Wednesday, nearly $180,000 had been raised.
Benjamin's funeral will be held Miami, Florida, on Nov. 6, with a mass in Haiti to follow at a later date.