@ Pigeon Island, St. Lucia Jazz Festival
9 May 2008
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"...One of the most underrated musicians on the planet.
I discovered the beauty of Butler's musicianship quite late... better
late than never! My music collection will never be complete, but
I am so pleased to have Jonathon Butler’s music as part of
Jonathon Butler was born October 1961. He found music as one way
of escaping the economic discrimination and oppression, which plagued
his native Cape Town South Africa. The youngest of twelve children,
he found the courage and certainly had the talent to begin singing
publicly at the tender age of seven. Butler absorbed music from
around the globe from artists such as the jazz / R&B /guitarist
– singer George Benson, composer – singer and humanitarian
Miriam Makeba and Stevie Wonder.
Butler’s talents would not stay secret for too long. In 1977
British producer Clive Caulder signed the thirteen-year-old Butler
to Jive Records (Caulder’s own company). Though Jive records
headquarters were in England, Butler’s strong presence in
South Africa was confirmed by being the first black artist to have
their song played by white radio stations. This landmark single
also earned him a Sarie Award (South Africa’s equivalent to
Butler moved to England in the 1980’s to assist in his companies’
focus on his career. This would soon prove fruitful, as his debut
self-titled debut album was a commercial success - and Butler was
Grammy nomination for the hit single “Lies”.
Butler remained in England for seventeen years. He confirms that
he “came to the West to seek artistic freedom to be able to
express himself”. His free flowing artistic gift has brought
many admirers from both fans and established musicians. To date
he has collaborated with the likes of Rachelle Ferrell, Will Downing
and Lee Ritenour to name a few.
I had not given Jonathon Butler much thought after the huge commercial
success of “Lies” in the early 1990’s, but after
listening to the colourful - sunshine filled “Do You Love
Me” album released in 1997, it was obvious that I had dealt
this man a great injustice – and it was ‘ME’ who
had missed out! I realised it was time to rectify this situation
and explore his earlier material. I was not disappointed. Both “The
Source” and “Story Of Life” contain mainly vocal
led compositions and ballads drenched in J B’s own personal,
positive heart-warming energy.
Though I can feel the pain and frustration of township life through
J B’s vocals and guitar. I cannot help but become enthralled
with his sumptuous soulful compositions - and admire his optimism.
Whether he is sharing his stories through rich, heart-wrenching
ballads such as
“Lost To Love” (from the album “Do You Love Me”),
or celebrating the success of love and relationships with compositions
such as “Anniversary” (from “The Source”)
J B’s ability to naturally blend his own unique warmth with
lyrical beauty is inspiring.
J B’s gift does not stop there. He can also drive forward
lively, rhythmic, inspirational instrumentals. Take a listen to
“Dancing On the Shore” (from the album “Do You
Love Me”), or “Mandela Way”,
(taken from his latest offering “Jonathon”). Both these
infectious worldly, upbeat compositions raise my heart rate and
send a shiver down my spine.
Because J B is able to communicate so much feeling through his
music, almost as if he is a man who ‘wears his heart on his
sleeve’. You really do feel that you get a sense of the man,
his past – and a peek into his optimistic future.
‘Feast your ears’ on Jonathon Butler’s dream
and love of life. He conveys his message in such a unique and articulate
way. Like me – you will wonder why this man has not received
the worldwide recognition he truly deserves.
9 January 2006
© Michael Valentine Studio Ltd.