We loved the message in the music, Bra Ray
During the dark days of apartheid, the music of Ray Chikapa Phiri and his jazz band, Stimela, brought hope to many in the struggle.
His music went beyond entertainment and education. It carried the message that many in the country, as well as those outside South Africa’s borders, wanted to hear.
It was a sound exhorting us that the struggle was continuing, a message of hope that tomorrow would be better. For that, we are grateful.
Through music, Phiri and Stimela inspired many other artists to play their part in the struggle against the oppressive government of the day.
South Africans clearly understood the call to stand up against the system when Stimela belted Whispers in the Deep’s verse: Ungahlebi, Speak your mind. Don’t be afraid. Don’t whisper in the deep. Speak out your mind. Stand up! Wake up! There’s still sleep right in your eye. Call me angry, call me mad. A soul that whispers in the deep. I’m inspired. But I can’t understand hate.
Phiri’s stage performances were a marvel to behold. From his dance moves, which were unmatched, to his style of guitar play, he was unique and entertaining.
He was a hero who did South Africa proud and placed the country’s music among the world’s top recordings.
After 70 years, Bra Ray, you had to go to another life, and South Africa is thankful to have hosted you. You gave back to this country many more times than you could imagine. Generations to come will remember you.
This quote from the muso says it all: “The purpose of music is to communicate something ... Some of our songs will outlive us. I will pass on and the songs will still be played because I invested in writing songs for the people.”
Siyabonga for the music.