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Published: Sat, July 15, 2017
Culture | By Antonia Gonzales

Legendary musician Ray Phiri dies

Legendary musician Ray Phiri dies

An established figure in the South African music scene through work with his afro-fusion jazz group Stimela, Phiri gained global success when he joined Paul Simon's Graceland band alongside Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

Phiri died at a Nelspruit hospital after losing his battle with lung cancer.

He became a founding member of the soul music giants group of the 1970s, the Cannibals, which were later joined by the late soul singer Mpharanyana.

The tributes to the singer with a hoarse voice, famous for his hits "Whispers in the Deep" and "Phinda Mzala", a mixture of jazz and african sounds, have flocked Wednesday.

Musician and radio personality Bob Mabena says Phiri was an incredible performer.

In 1995, Paul Simon asked Phiri to be a part of his Graceland project.

But at home, Phiri was also celebrated as the co-founder of the influential group Stimela, a popular fusion band that melded smooth jazz with mbaqanga: an energetic, rhythm-heavy genre that itself married local styles with jazz.

This is indeed a huge loss for South Africa and the music industry as a whole. Graceland sold 16 million albums and won the 1987 Grammy for Album of the Year.

In November 2003 Phiri survived a tragic vehicle accident that claimed the life of his wife, Daphney.

An overwhelming amount of tributes from fans, friends and well-known personalities have since inundated social media.

"He will be sadly missed because his legendary status not only put the province on the world map, but was a motivator for other artists from the province to venture into the 'Golden City, ' Johannesburg to seek recording deals", said culture department spokesperson, Ms Sibongile Nkosi.

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