Joseito Mateo, The King Of Merengue, Dies At 98

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A report by Camille Augustin for Vibe.

Right before noon on Friday (June 1), news outlets published reports on the death of legendary musician Joseito Mateo. According to Listin Diario, the “King of Merengue” was pronounced dead around 11:44 a.m. in the Dominican Republic. The cause of death was leukemia.

His son, Joseito Mateo Jr., recently said that when his father transitions, he and various musicians will play at his funeral, El Caribe notes. The news arrives three days (May 29) after Mateo checked in to a hospital. Noticias Sin also reports that Mateo was diagnosed with prostate cancer 10 years ago.

In 2010, the innovative artist received the Latin Grammy Awards’ Musical Excellence accolade, highlighting his decade-spanning contributions to Latin America’s discography. His trajectory in the music business began with his debut album, King of Merengue! released in 1950.

From that point, Mateo kept recording and performing the music of his native D.R. and the African Diaspora. A quote published by Listin Diario references a point when Mateo said nothing could stop him from retiring, speaking to his unshakable love of music.

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