Aug 2017 1st Edition

Phiri’s musical ends

Written by Albert Pule

The death of musical legend Ray “Chikapa” Phiri has left the music industry poorer.

Ray “Chikapa” Phiri was born in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, in 1947 and started his music career in the late 1960s as a guitarist. He founded a group called The Cannibals, followed by the more well-known Stimela.

With Stimela, Phiri composed and conceptualised new work and the band achieved platinum-selling albums. Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa said Phiri’s music appealed to a new generation of South Africans who were fighting apartheid.

“Their music was urban, racy and African pop at its best and it spoke to the times they lived in. Their songs appealed to new generations of South Africans who came of age in the 1970s and 1980s and who stood their ground and strove for freedom in the last decade of apartheid rule.”

Ray Phiri was an arts activist in Mpumalanga and for many years sat on the board of the National Arts Council of South Africa. He collaborated with many other musicians to advance their music, and founded the Ray Phiri Artists Institute to develop Mpumalanga talent.

We will remember him

He received the Order of Ikhamanga in Silver for his contribution to South African music and his life’s contribution to the transformation of the arts.

Premier of the North West Supra Mahumapelo joined millions of South Africans to pay tribute to Phiri.

He said Phiri’s death came at a time when there was an agreement between him and the North West provincial government to assist the province in revitalise help Mmabana Studios.

“I was also working with the legendary musician, as an artist myself, on a reconciliation, healing and renewal music concert in honour of the late Collins Chabane and to compose the gospel version of Zwakala,” said Premier Mahumapelo.

“This is truly a great loss to the music industry. I wish to, on behalf of the provincial government and the North West community, extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends.

“We will forever remember him and be grateful for his immense contribution in the music industry. May his soul rest in peace,” Premier Mahumapelo said. 

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