Jonathan Butler

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About Jonathan Butler

Jonathan Butler had a long, circuitous route to his genre-busting international success as one of South Africa’s most beloved musical exports. Born in Cape Town in 1961, singer/guitarist Butler was beyond precocious, going pro at the age of seven and making history as a teen with his 1975 debut single, a version of The Drifters’ “Please Stay.” It was the first song by a Black artist to become a hit on white radio in apartheid-era South Africa, earning a Sarie Award in the process. In the late ’70s, he played with the jazzy funk band Pacific Express, but he resumed his solo career in the ’80s. The sunny R&B bounce of Butler’s 1987 hit “Lies” made him an international name, and he remained one thereafter. In the years to come, Butler’s distinctive blend of smooth jazz, pop, and R&B—shot through with fluid acoustic guitar solos and occasional splashes of gospel—became his signature style. In addition to maintaining a spot on the charts of all the above genres for decades with his solo albums, Butler has guested on recordings by jazz stars like George Duke, Candy Dulfer, Dave Koz, Bob James, and many more.

Cape Town, South Africa
October 10, 1961

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