The Left-Handed Guitar Players That Changed Music By John Engel
Labeling Jonathan Butler’s music presents a dilemma insofar as he has led what can be viewed as a double career. As a prolific R&B singer-songwriter, he has put out a string of albums and reaped much success, both commercial and critical. His distinctive emotional voice and catchy melodies are infused with a kind-hearted glow that is an intrinsic facet of the man’s temperament.
Yet, it is Butler’s melodic guitar work and smooth jazz sensitivities, informed as they are by his African roots, which have set this artist most clearly apart. This is why, even if his career and fortunes have touched on varied ground, he is found here under the jazz heading.
Butler grew up in a vast, poor family in the days of apartheid. He joined his family’s touring musical group at the age of five, where music proved as much a vocation as a means of survival. At age 12, he was propelled to the status of chart-topping pop star in South Africa. By 17, he had become an assiduous jazz guitarist and singer, brought into the fold of South Africa’s premier jazz-rock formation, Pacific Express.
A huge chapter is devoted to Jonathan Butler in the book Uncommon Sound, with brilliant views and recollections from Butler himself, as well as South African musician Jack Momple and his first producer, Patrick Lee Thorp.
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