Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse pays tribute to late musical genius Tony Cedras

Born in Elsies River, Cedras’ super power was performing and recording on the accordion. Picture: Supplied

Born in Elsies River, Cedras’ super power was performing and recording on the accordion. Picture: Supplied

Published Jan 30, 2024


Accordion, harmonium, keyboard, guitar player and trumpet player. These were the many talents Tony Cedras possessed.

The Cape Town-born musician sadly passed away earlier this week, aged 72.

While his cause of his death was not known, many of his industry peers took to social media to share fond memories of the immensely talented “giant of a man”.

— Music Exchange SA (@musicexchange) January 29, 2024

Born in Elsies River, Cedras’ super power was performing and recording on the accordion, but his skills on the trumpet are what got him noticed by the late Hugh Masekela, who he eventually shared the stage with.

Harry Belafonte, Miriam Makeba, Henry Threadgill, Muhal Richard Abrams, Cassandra Wilson and Tony Bird, were just a few of the artists Cedras lent his musical talent to.

According to Wikipedia, Cedras got his first professional break under the tutorship of Pacific Express bass player Paul Abrahams. He was drafted into the band as a trumpet and keyboard player.

Even Paul Simon took a gamble on him and invited him on tour, joining the band from 1987 to 2012.

Fellow musician and songwriter Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse, known as Sipho since 1985, shared some memorable moments with the ‘Yakal Nkomo’ star.

“I worked with Tony, did some fantastic shows with him,” said Mabuse who added that they first met in Botswana,“ mused the ‘Rumba Mama’ muso.

“We made great relationships when touring with Paul Simon. Because of his musicianship, everyone had wanted to work with Tony.”

Probably one of the must underrated musical artists in South Africa, Mabuse was saddened by the fact that his talents spread far and wide, but in his own country, he was virtually unknown.

“Capetonians didn’t really know him,” added Mabuse.

“He was such a musician; such a gift. For me, it was a privilege to play with him, especially in Soweto.”

Describing his friend’s influence, Mabuse said: “He was a musician's musician. That’s who he was.

“He was not just your ordinary musician. That talent that guy had was unbelievable.”

Cedras had been a close and dear friend to publicist and music manager Martin Myers, who interviewed him at Mabuse’s home in 2019.

“I had the privilege to work with Tony on a number of occasions,” said the founder of the NPC Music Exchange.

“He spoke at Music Exchange, the conference I run ... There is no instrument he could not play. A giant of a man.”

During one of their previous interviews, Cedras spoke about performing with Simon during the ‘Graceland’ tour and the release of his new album ‘Love Letter To Cape Town’.

Cedras relayed a funny anecdote of their last show on tour: “A sack of ping-pong balls on the stage high up on the lighting truss, the backing singers go ‘ah’ during the song.

“The roadies release thousands of balls on stage whilst the singers are going ‘ooh’ and ‘ah’.

“The balls came down like rain, people froze as the balls bounced all over the stage; the funniest moments I have had.

“Paul just smiled and laughed.”

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