Bubu Music Pioneer Janka Nabay Dies

– Janka Nabay

Janka Nabay, who was largely responsible for spreading the “Bubu” electronic music from his home country of Sierra Leone to the U.S., has died, as confirmed by his record label, Luaka Bop.

“We are shocked and incredibly saddened to announce the sudden death of Ahmed Janka Nabay. He died unexpectedly in the Kambia District of northwestern Sierra Leone on Monday, April 2, following a sudden stomach illness,” the label wrote. “To those of us who knew and worked with him, Janka was a true force, a man of exceptional charisma and talent, and a shining ray of light, who will be missed dearly by friends all around the world.”

Nabay was from Sierra Leone, born in 1964, and first began recording modernized versions of traditional “bubu” music there, moving to Freetown as a teenager. He eventually got caught up in the country’s civil war and, fearing for his life, moved to the U.S. in 2002. He worked in various jobs in New York until he was able to begin recording more music and put together a band, Janka Nabay And The BuBu Gang. Pollstar has records of the band’s shows dating back to 2010, including headline gigs and appearances at SXSW, Midpoint Music Festival, and Joshua Tree Music Festival.

A memorial service will be announced on his Facebook page and a GoFundMe has been set up for his family.