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Thousands Mourn Haitian Singer

February 5, 1998

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) _ More than 2,000 fans attended a funeral for Coupe Cloue, a Haitian singer renowned in the French West Indies and Africa for his satirical songs on sex and society.

Coupe Cloue, whose real name was Jean Gesner Henri, died Jan. 29 at his suburban Delmas home. He was 73, and had suffered diabetes and high blood pressure.

After a funeral service Wednesday in Port-au-Prince’s Notre Dame cathedral, some 500 mourners accompanied a procession to a cemetery in suburban Petionville.

Henri recorded more than 60 albums. The rhythm of his music resembled African soukous, and the conversational-style commentary that often punctuated his songs led some critics to call his music a precursor of rap.

Henri won acclaim during his first tour of Africa in 1978, adopting an African boubou as his stage costume and calling himself ``the king.″ His last public performance was in December.

Henri earned his nickname _ which means ``cut and hammer″ in French Creole _ for the way he stole the ball as a semi-professional soccer player in the 1950s. The name stuck when he began his singing career in 1956.

He is survived by seven children.

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