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South African jazz legend Ray Phiri dies at 70

Johannesburg – South African jazz legend, Ray Phiri, died on Wednesday at the age of 70, the presidency and media reports said.

Ray Phiri

The guitarist and vocalist was internationally known for his appearance on U.S. singer-songwriter Paul Simon’s “Graceland” album in 1986.

Phiri died from lung cancer at a hospital in Mbombela in his native Mpumalanga province.

The jazz, fusion and mbaqanga musician helped to found the soul music group The Cannibals in the 1970s.

He later founded Stimela, with which he conceived gold and platinum-winning albums such as “Fire, Passion and Ecstasy” and “People Don’t Talk So Let’s Talk.”

The presidency described the award-winning musician as having used “arts as an instrument of social transformation.”

“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.

Phiri faced controversy for working with Simon and the other Graceland musicians, who were accused of breaking an international cultural boycott of South Africa for its apartheid regime.


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