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Jonathan Butler

South African expatriate Jonathan Butler isn't really a jazz artist, but his laid-back, slightly jazz-tinged approach to R&B/pop has earned the singer/guitarist/songwriter/producer a lot of supporters in the urban contemporary, adult contemporary, quiet storm, and smooth jazz/NAC markets. Butler has enjoyed a following since the late '70s, although he reached his commercial peak in the late '80s, and he continues to tour and record in the 21st century. Born in Cape Town, South Africa, in October 1961, Butler was only a child when he started singing and playing acoustic guitar. Butler, who was the youngest of about 12 children, absorbed a variety of music when he was a kid. He was an admirer of South African stars like singer Miriam Makeba, but he was also hip to the American soul and jazz artists who lived thousands of miles away in the United States. Stevie Wonder became a major influence, and so did former-hard bop-guitarist-turned-R&B/pop-singer George Benson.

Sadly, Butler learned about the horrors of South Africa's racist apartheid laws at an early age; when he was growing up, South Africa had an oppressive system of racial segregation that was quite comparable to the jim crow laws that plagued the southern U.S. until the early '60s. Apartheid (which, thankfully, has since been abolished) was the subject of some of Butler's '80s recordings. Although he was never a hardcore protest singer à la Gil Scott-Heron, Peter Tosh, or Bob Marley, he wrote some anti-apartheid songs here and there. Butler, who spoke Afrikaans before becoming fluent in English, was a teenager when British producer Clive Calder signed him to the London-based Jive Records in 1977; Introducing Jonathan Butler, his largely instrumental debut album, was released that year and employed Bob Cranshaw (who is best known for his long association with Sonny Rollins) on bass. At the time, Butler was often compared to Benson, a man who, like Butler, has been praised for both his singing and his guitar playing. It wasn't long before the teenage Butler won a Sarie Award, which is the South African equivalent of an American Grammy or a Canadian Juno Award.

But Butler didn't remain in South Africa much longer; in the early '80s, he escaped from apartheid and moved to England (where Jive's main office was located, and where Butler remained for 17 years). Butler maintained a loyal following in the '80s and '90s, not only in his native South Africa, but also, in the U.S. and Europe. One of his biggest releases came in 1987, when Jive released a self-titled album that contained a hit cover of the Staple Singers' "If You're Ready (Come With Me)" (which found him performing a duet with British urban contemporary singer Ruby Turner). And Butler's next Jive album, 1988's More Than Friends, was also a big seller; that CD gave us the major hits "Lies" (which was nominated for a Grammy) and "Sarah, Sarah." Butler continued to record for Jive in the early '90s; then, in the late '90s and early 2000s, he provided three albums for N-Coded Music: 1997's Do You Love Me?, 1999's Story of Life, and 2000's The Source. After that, Butler (who turned 40 in October 2001) left N-Coded and moved to Warner Bros., which released Surrender in June 2002. ~ Alex Henderson, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Heart And Soul (Single)

Comments

This song has a uniquie S. African sound, with sprinkles of George Benson like flavor. A beautiful blend.
South Africa has much beauty, and JB is one of the beautiful things to come out of this country, so don't stop blessing the world with your gift.
tonyaharring t o n 2 7 3 3 0
Happy Early Birthday, Jonathan! Keep on what you're doing with your music, I love it,and you!
Awsme sounz jb. Hi five
Love his music
Beautiful song love Jonathan butler nice slow groove.
urwhitfield
Really like this track.
pecanpie33
I have been a JB fan since More than Friends album. I love it all...Gospel / J a z z at its best. I am still hearing your music during the live performance in Boston at Skulley's in 2011. Your daughter is amazing too! Keep on blessing us Jonathan. I love you.
j.field1
I remember when pandora was a cool station but now days its just a little b**ch,signin s i g n i n s i g n i n , F O ! I paid for it leave me alone tight asses!
One of the best musical talents.
geefaye
There is nothing that JB does that I do not like.
What she said . . .
You are magic to my heart keep playing!
Jonathan I love your music
I'm 62 yrs old and have been to a few of your performances totally convinced your music is arranged to set my spirit free . Thanks for your work in the music industry . Bishop Simmons
What a powerful song.
I first heard him in the Richard Jon Smith Show in South Africa in the late seventies, great stuff Jonathan , we so proud of you.
dotbraxton0
A very unique touch. Can listen to this forever
I just saw him at the San Diego Jazz festival...m a n I wa blown away!
Jonathan played the PAGEANT in St. Louis, MO. and you could hear a pin drop when he did No woman no Cry by Bob Morley...it was absolutely wonderful; will never forget that night or that song...thank s JB!!
brittlinda48
Very soothing and relaxing, music for the soul, what more can I say except, it's simply AWESOME!!! I'm
slimqt18
I've been a connoisseur of Butler's smoove sound since I first heard Sarah, Sarah at 15. Twenty-five years later, I love his sound like I just discovered it yesterday... Great music NEVER grows old...
ugilbertii
JB does it smooth and easy. Guitar Master a mix of Benson and Klugh...... he makes it do what it do baby!!!!!!!! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
Love Jonathan! I love this man's music. Soothing to my soul, so beautiful
Perfect music to relax and just work.....
This is so nice,thank you Mr. Butler
( Surrender.) By. None. Other. Than
Mr Jonathan. Butler.
Jonathan gose back to 80s always loved him! True fan his voice is still as beautiful as always..
We. All. Know. Who. This. Is
Jonathan Butler. One. And. Only
( surrender ). That's. It. And. Don't
For. Get. It .
The real deal....a fan for over 20years!
Let the Redeemed day so. Man that is some sweet and hip spiritual sounds. The gospel in jazz. I'm digging it!!!
shakeda88
He's rhe Man
gardenofmone y
WHAT IS THERE NOT TO LOVE ABOUT JB'S MUSIC - SUCH PASSION..... .
Live this man........
Voice is amazing..... . . . . . . . . b e a u t i f u l
Sarah sarah what happen to you & i! Yess loved him back then surely! Still do.
A beautiful musician & beautiful person. Thanks Jonathan for ear candy.
Smooth and mellow music.......
I am in love with this song!!!
My Song, My Song, My Song, My Song! Always Love Song!
Love Pandora, music u play is soooo relaxing. Keep on keep in on Pandora, u rock!
I love it always have!! Yessss pandora play it! Early 80s.
How could you not like this? So smooth!
Lost to love is one that will fit me forever.
My Song! My Song! Love Music!
One of the true greats of our time. I never get tired of listening to JB.
nfunglyew
My favorite since 1989!!!
residence716 8
So smooth and soothing... Love it
Amen
JB and Tino Billy, the best guitarists by a mile...
I love your smooth scound
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