Tribute to Jonathan Butler
This past week has seen us celebrate the life and times and mourn the passing of Mohommed Ali. I thought in similar vain, to pay tribute to some of our music heroes from South Africa as we see in the new week. June 16th this year will commemorate the 40th anniversary of a pivotal time in our historic struggle against the atrocities and racial oppression of Apartheid.
June 16th saw students from schools take to the streets in protest against being taught in the oppressors’ language. Hundreds of young people lost their lives on that day. This set the precedent for many dark years before our final claim to democracy in 1994. As a nation whose population is predominantly young , this day is now celebrated as Youth Day. I am grateful that my children were born into a democratic South Africa and enjoy much greater freedom than the generation that Jonathan and I grew up in.
Like many musicians of his ilk, Jonathan had to live in exile from his own country both in pursuit of his art and as protest against what the rest of us experienced as a way of life.I will be paying another musical tribute on June 16th but thought I’d start with Jonathan-my homeboy. Though we grew up in different cities, we shared similar experiences. I’m so proud of his achievements as a musician despite the challenges he had to ovecome. As a child, I sought refuge in music as he did and having once aspired to be a singer, I used to do my own rendition of his very first song “Please Stay” – I could hit those high notes as he did then, in similar fashion to Michael Jackson’s “Ben”. I’d love you to listen to both versions of the song.
Jonathan tells a bit of his own story in some of the songs I’ve put together – as you will hear in his adult version of “Please Stay”, “Going home” and “Frequency” I’ve also showcased some of his collaborations with other famous musicians. I hope you enjoy this compilation as much as I enjoyed putting it together and have a great week ahead!!!