Zwakala Kaneno: The Late Ray Phiri, a Man, a Legend

Jazz legend Ray Phiri died this morning at a hospital in Mpumalanga after a battle with lung cancer.

Raymond Chikapa “Ray” Phiri was born in Mpumalanga on 23 March 1947. He became founding member of the Cannibals in the 1970s. 

When the Cannibals disbanded Ray founded Stimela, with whom he conceived gold and platinum-selling albums like Fire, Passion and Ecstacy , Look, Listen and Decide as well as the controversial People Don't Talk So Let's Talk.

The Late Ray Phiri
Some of the most memorable tracks by Stimela is Zwakala Kaneno and Whispers In The Deep, or Phinda Mzala as is affectionately known.

He grew up with a passion for music, and started playing the guitar at a very tender age, inspired by his late father Kanyama Phiri. He was also able to play a variety of music instruments, including the piano and drums.

Phiri got his first music break in 1962 when he danced for the legendary Dark City Sisters when they performed in the Eastern Transvaal. He managed to make enough money fulfil his ambition to travel to Johannesburg.

Phiri has received many awards in recognition for his contribution in the music industry, one of these is the Order of Ikhamanga in Silver awarded to him by the South African president on April 27, 2011. 

This was to honour his sterling contribution to the South African music industry and the successful use of arts as an instrument of social transformation. Phiri founded of the Ray Phiri Artists Institute, which focuses on unearthing and promoting the best music talent that Mpumalanga can produce.

The group Stimela consists of the following members:

Ray Phiri (lead guitar, lead vocals), Sam Ndlovu (Vocals), Isaac "Mnca" Mtshali (drummer), The late - Nana Coyote (lead vocals), Thapelo Kgomo (keyboards), Ntokozo Zungu (lead guitar), Bafana Khuzwayo (organ). - Daily Sun

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