Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 14th 2017 Contents life A29
Friday, July 14, 2017 guardian.co.tt
Ray Phiri's passing stuns
The Emancipation Support Committee of Trini-
dad & Tobago has expressed sadness at the passing
of South African icon and world famous composer,
musician and singer Ray Phiri.
Phiri whose international fame as a composer rose
with his contributions to the Graceland Album featuring
Lady Smith Black Mambazo and Paul Simon was due
to arrive in T&T on July 25 to begin rehearsals with the
Massy All Stars Steel Orchestra and local choirs Jeune
Agape and Signal Hill for a proposed CD and musical
tour of selected African countries, beginning with South
Africa in 2018.
An initial performance of two songs was planned to
launch the internation-
al project at this year's
Pan Night organised
by the Emancipation
of T&T as a special fea-
ture of the ESCTT 25th
oration, a release said.
The ESCTT inter-
national project coor-
dinator and the major
South African sponsor
were due to accompa-
ny Phiri to hold talks
and enter into formal
agreements with the
local groups which had
agreed in principle to
the project. All were looking forward to the implementa-
tion of this dynamic international musical collaboration.
Just over a week ago the Emancipation Support Com-
mittee of T&T was about to deliver a proposal to a local
company seeking sponsorship for local components of
the initial phase of the project when we learnt from our
South African partners that Phiri had entered hospital.
At the time, his spokespeople assured that he would be
out well in time for travel. However a few days ago we
received a call from South Africa and later the BBC news
announced that Ray Phiri had lung cancer.
In a release the ESCTT said, "We wish to send public
condolences to South Africa from our organisation, from
all those in the know and supportive of the project in-
cluding our musical heroes who were about to enter this
partnership, from the people of T&T who are familiar
with the name Ray Phiri.
"Our condolences go to the family, friends and musical
partners of this famous South African who was willingly
preparing to add to T&T's rich musical heritage; to those
who helped us to organise this special collaboration and
to all the global fans and friends of Ray Phiri. The ESCTT
has sent condolences directly to the family of Ray Phiri
and will dedicate this year's Pan Night at the Emanci-
pation Village to this giant of the musical world who
was willing to share his talents with some of our own
great artistes." (AP)
South African guitarist Ray
Phiri was supposed to visit
T&T on July 25.
In this August 1991 file photo, Paul Simon, center, plays a finale with lead guitarist
Ray Phiri, left, and actor-comedian Chevy Chase on the saxophone in New York's
Central Park. AP PHOTOS
Ray Phiri, a South African jazz musician who founded
the band Stimela and became internationally known
while performing on Paul Simon's Graceland tour,
died of cancer on Wednesday at age 70.
Phiri, a vocalist and guitarist known for his versatility
in jazz fusion, indigenous South African rhythms
and other styles, received many music awards in
his home country. His death was met with nation-
"He was a musical giant. This is indeed a huge loss
for South Africa and the music industry as a whole,"
President Jacob Zuma said in a statement.
Political parties also expressed condolences, saying
Phiri's songs resonated among many South Africans,
particularly during the era of white minority rule
that ended in 1994.
"An immensely gifted composer, vocalist and gui-
tarist, he breathed consciousness and agitated
thoughts of freedom through his music," said the
ruling African National Congress party, which was
the main movement against apartheid until it took
power in the country's first all-race elections.
South Africa's main opposition party, the Democratic
Alliance, said many people grew up with Phiri's mu-
sic. "In the 1970s, Phiri's music spoke to issues that
are still affecting our people today," the party said.
Stimela's best-known albums include Fire, Passion
and Ecstasy and Look, Listen and Decide, and Phiri
contributed as a guitarist to Simon's Graceland al-
bum in the 1980s. The album evolved from Simon's
interest in indigenous South African music.
RAY PHIRI OBITUARY
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