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Jonathan Butler in 2007
|Jonathan Kenneth Butler|
10 October 1961|
Athlone, Cape Town South Africa
|Genres||Rhythm and blues, jazz fusion, contemporary worship music|
|Labels||Artistry, Mountain, Jive, Rendezvous|
|Pacific Express, Kirk Whalum, Ruby Turner, Boney James, Dave Koz|
Born and raised in Athlone, Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa, during Apartheid, Butler started singing and playing acoustic guitar as a child. Racial segregation and poverty during Apartheid has been the subject of many of his records. His first single was the first by a black artist played by white radio stations in the racially segregated South Africa and earned a Sarie Award, South Africa's equivalent to the Grammy Awards.
He began touring at the age of seven when he joined a travelling stage show, and was later signed up to perform on a string of hit recordings, turning him into a local teen idol. In 1975 his cover of "Please Stay (song)" by The Drifters reached number 2 in South Africa. The same year his cover of "I Love How You Love Me" by The Paris Sisters reached number 4. "I'll be Home" reached number 16 in 1976.
In 1978 he found the inspiration and encouragement to begin expressing himself as a composer and songwriter when he joined Cape Town's best known jazz/rock outfit, Pacific Express. Two albums were recorded with the Express personnel, and some Pacific Express songs were later released on the 1988 7th Avenue album. All three releases were issued by Mountain Records.
Butler was signed to Jive Records in 1977, and in the early 1980s he moved to the United Kingdom, where he remained for seventeen years. His international breakthrough came in 1987 with his Grammy-nominated hit single, "Lies" which reached #25 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart, and his cover version of the Staple Singers song "If You're Ready (Come Go with Me)", which he performed with Ruby Turner. His single "Lies", also reached the UK Official Singles Chart, peaking at number 18, spending 12 weeks, in total, in the Top 100.
In 2001, Butler was featured in a compilation album that was a jazz tribute to Bob Marley produced by Lee Ritenour, A Twist of Marley. Butler's contribution to the album was a jazz cover of No Woman No Cry.
Butler maintained a loyal following in the 1980s and 1990s, in South Africa, the United States and Europe.
In 2006, Butler was a featured vocalist on the album Gospel Goes Classical, produced by University of Alabama at Birmingham music professor Henry Panion. This recording, featuring arrangements by Panion, Tommy Stewart, Michael Loveless, and Ray Reach, rose to No. 2 on the Billboard Gospel chart, and No. 3 on the Classical Crossover chart. He was also nominated for a Grammy Award for his single "Going Home".