Ricardo Drue, a soca singer renowned in his native Antigua and Barbuda and among the Caribbean community around the world, died Tuesday. He was 38.
“On behalf of Ricardo Drue’s fiancé, children, family and team, thank you for the massive outpouring of love and condolences on the passing of our brother and friend Ricardo Drue,” said a statement posted Tuesday on the artist’s Instagram account.
“It is evident that Ricardo was truly loved and we are consoled knowing that his impact extended worldwide,” the statement continued. “His sudden passing has left us all shattered and as such we are asking for privacy as we make sense of this devastating loss.”
The family did not include a cause or other details about Drue’s death. In a second statement posted on Drue’s official Instagram, his family condemned the circulation of a “very disrespectful” picture and voice note featuring the artist, saying that it “caused tremendous trauma to his children, fiance, family, friends and team.”
Multiple Caribbean outlets reported that Drue was found unresponsive Tuesday and was rushed to a hospital in St. John’s, the capital of Antigua and Barbuda. Hours later, Drue’s fiancé and fellow soca singer, Patrice Roberts, shared a video on Instagram of the couple sharing a kiss accompanied by several crying emojis.
“I do anything to hear your voice … wake up,” Roberts captioned the post.
Drue was a father of five. He and Roberts became engaged last year.
Born in Antigua and Barbuda and raised in Trinidad and Tobago, Drue grew up immersed in R&B, reggae and soca music, a musical style that stems from calypso and blends in soul music, according to Trini Jungle Juice.
He started his career performing in soca boy bands and gained acclaim as a finalist in soca music competitions. Drue is probably best known for his 2017 single, “Vagabond,” and also opened for fellow vocalists Sean Kingston and Fat Joe.
He often performed across the Caribbean, but also for members of the Caribbean diaspora in the United States. The singer took the stage at festivals in Queens and the Bronx in New York, as well as Raleigh, N.C., and Orlando, Fla., where he reportedly lived in recent years. Over the past year, his popularity rose on streaming platforms and his streams on Spotify grew from 100,000 in 2022 to 1.2 million this year.
He celebrated the milestone over the weekend with a post on Instagram, sharing screenshots of his Spotify Wrapped statistics, writing, “What is your motivation to fight through it all? Mine is my children!!!! Thank you, guys!! we are just getting starting.”
“His passing was extremely sad and shocking. He was one of our best soca artists who enjoyed the patronage, admiration and respect of our people. He will be immensely missed” Brown told Antigua News.
Soca figure DJ Private Ryan said in a tweet that he had just spoken to Drue Tuesday morning “about cherishing life” and he called the singer’s death “a huge loss.”
DJ JEL pointed out that their music community was still reeling from the loss of Clyde Tha Outlaw, also a major figure in the soca and Caribbean music scene. He died in late November in a car crash in Trinidad and Tobango, according to the country’s local publication, Newsday.
“The industry barely process Clyde Tha Outlaw, now we hadda process Drue,” he lamented on X. “Tomorrow isn’t promised.”
Tenille Clarke, a writer and entrepreneur from Trinidad and Tobago, called Drue “every Soca star’s biggest fan.” She shared video of Drue laughing with other artists onstage during a rehearsal.
“Even during rehearsals,” she wrote in a tweet, “Drue would make sure you knew that the love was there. May his memory be a blessing.”
This story originally appeared on LATimes