The South African jazz legend Ray Phiri passed away during the morning hours on Wednesday, 12 July. The news came as a shock to the country as the prominent jazz, fusion and mbaqanga musician succumbed to lung cancer. Ray was hospitalised two weeks ago, according to Times Live, as he struggled to battle his illness. Now the music industry and the country mourns this remarkable man, who had an incredible career spanning over 40 years.

Ray started a band in the 1970s called The Cannibals. When the band called it quits, he went on to form the band, Stimela. Stimela released several critically acclaimed albums since 1982. One of our favourites is the 1987 track, Unfinished Story, which you can watch below.

 

 

Ray Phiri had a huge impact on the music industry. His own daughter, Nonkhu Phiri is also an acclaimed musician. It is through his albums, the people that have seen him perform live, his family and friends, that he will be remembered forever. As news broke about this tragedy, tweets have been pouring in paying respects to Ray.

 

 

Ray Phiri

Ray Phiri performing live in Mozambique. Photographed by Neo Baepi