Jonathan Butler is living his best life
World renowned South African-born guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Jonathan Butler is once again living his best life.
He shares his story through his latest music offering, Close To You - a celebration of the music of Burt Bacharach. The album also features music greats George Duke and Marcus Miller.
The project is a celebration of Butler’s mark on the global stage while keeping his South African identity intact.
“Listen to it, hear your South African brother interpret American music from a local perspective, and know that his identity is intact.
“He has not changed his ways,” says Butler, adding the songs’ unique interpretations resonate as strongly as the originals.
The compilation is inspired by the love of his life whom he met after his marriage came to an end.
“I got divorced five years ago and I was due to make another record for my record company, and I didn’t have a lot of inspiration as I was going through a lot of changes.
“The inspiration for this album came when I was sitting with my fiancée one night at home, and I played the piano with some friends and we started playing the song together.
“I was married for 30 years and meeting my fiancée was like meeting my best friend.
“Every day I would start a song, she would say: ‘Do that South African thing you do,’ and her input and support was very strong on this record. So that’s the story behind it,” says the US-based artist.
“I didn’t have any inspiration to write a new record with all original songs. That’s why you’ll see there’s only one original song, called Cape Town, because I didn’t have any inspiration going through all the things I had to go through and endure the difficult and unsettled times.
“This is a happy place in life right now. I am living the best life God has blessed me with someone who is truly my best friend and makes me really happy every day.”
The Grammy-nominated artist, who moved overseas decades ago, keeps in touch with Mzansi by looking out for South African products in the US. Butler comes back home occasionally to perform for local audiences and spend time with family in Cape Town.
His latest return on October 9 is thanks to his birthday, which he celebrated with a live performance in Paarl last Saturday.
“I haven’t played for the people of Paarl in many years, so the love they showed me was amazing.
“While I was singing, they had their phones out and it was crazy. Everyone had their phones in hand, recording and taking pictures. There was so much love.”
Back in the US, Butler has a few gigs lined up in Los Angeles and a Christmas show on the cards. And he won’t be away from Mzansi for long.
“I will come back next year around this time, but hopefully something earlier in the year will come up.”
The Sunday Independent