Ray Phiri has died aged of 70

Ray Phiri died at the age of 70 on July 12, 2017 at a Nelspruit hospital in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa after a battle with lung cancer. He was a legendary South African jazz musician with a career spanning nearly 50 years.

In 1985 Ray Phiri was asked by Paul Simon to join his Graceland project along with Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The project was a runaway success and helped him make a name abroad. Throughout his career Ray Phiri was honoured and awarded countless times including the Order of Ikhamanga in Silver awarded to him by the South African president.

Paul Nkanyane, Ray Phiri’s close friend, told the media that in his last moments he was surrounded by close friends and family.

“He had been battling for a while and his family were told that it wouldn’t be that long. He died surrounded by friends and family and looked peaceful as he passed,” Paul Nkanyane said.

“We are devastated and, naturally, asked why this has happened. But we are coming to terms with the loss because we understand that this is life and we have to be strong,” Paul Nkanyane continued.

“We were alerted to it two months ago after Ray became very sick. His health deteriorated until he was eventually admitted to hospital two weeks ago. We knew that it was serious but we did not want to even think about the possibility he would die,” Paul Nkanyane  was quoted.

“We are a very private family and did not want to reveal details about his condition to the media. But we are aware of the prayers on Ray’s behalf and we are grateful for them. He was loved by many and we are grateful that he made such an impact on the nation,” Paul Nkanyane concluded.

Meanwhile President Jacob Zuma paid tribute to the fallen star, describing him as a “Musical Giant”. “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.

“When the Cannibals disbanded, he founded Stimela (Steam Train), with whom he conceived gold and platinum-winning albums like Fire, Passion and Ecstasy, Look, Listen and Decide as well as the controversial People Don’t Talk So Let’s Talk,” President Jacob Zuma said.

“Music is spiritual. It provides healing and reflection, and it should add value. Emotion should shine through, and a healthy respect for the audience is required. May his soul rest in peace,” President Jacob Zuma concluded.


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