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Jonathan Butler

South African expatriate Jonathan Butler isn't really a jazz artist, but his laid-back, slightly jazz-tinged approach to R&B/pop has earned the singer/guitarist/songwriter/producer a lot of supporters in the urban contemporary, adult contemporary, quiet storm, and smooth jazz/NAC markets. Butler has enjoyed a following since the late '70s, although he reached his commercial peak in the late '80s, and he continues to tour and record in the 21st century. Born in Cape Town, South Africa in October 1961, Butler was only a child when he started singing and playing acoustic guitar. Butler, who was the youngest of about 12 children, absorbed a variety of music when he was a kid. He was an admirer of South African stars like singer Miriam Makeba, but he was also hip to the American soul and jazz artists who lived thousands of miles away in the United States. Stevie Wonder became a major influence, and so did former-hard bop-guitarist-turned-R&B/pop-singer George Benson.

Sadly, Butler learned about the horrors of South Africa's racist apartheid laws at an early age; when he was growing up, South Africa had an oppressive system of racial segregation that was quite comparable to the Jim Crow laws that plagued the southern U.S. until the early '60s. Apartheid (which has since been abolished) was the subject of some of Butler's '80s recordings. Although he was never a hardcore protest singer à la Gil Scott-Heron, Peter Tosh, or Bob Marley, he wrote some anti-apartheid songs here and there. Butler, who spoke Afrikaans before becoming fluent in English, was a teenager when British producer Clive Calder signed him to the London-based Jive Records in 1977; Introducing Jonathan Butler, his largely instrumental debut album, was released that year and employed Bob Cranshaw (who is best known for his long association with Sonny Rollins) on bass. At the time, Butler was often compared to Benson, a man who, like Butler, has been praised for both his singing and his guitar playing. It wasn't long before the teenage Butler won a Sarie Award, which is the South African equivalent of an American Grammy or a Canadian Juno Award.

But Butler didn't remain in South Africa much longer; in the early '80s, he escaped from apartheid and moved to England (where Jive's main office was located, and where Butler remained for 17 years). Butler maintained a loyal following in the '80s and '90s, not only in his native South Africa, but also, in the U.S. and Europe. One of his biggest releases came in 1987, when Jive released a self-titled album that contained a hit cover of the Staple Singers' "If You're Ready (Come With Me)" (which found him performing a duet with British urban contemporary singer Ruby Turner). And Butler's next Jive album, 1988's More Than Friends, was also a big seller; that CD gave us the major hits "Lies" (which was nominated for a Grammy) and "Sarah, Sarah." Butler continued to record for Jive in the early '90s; then, in the late '90s and early 2000s, he provided three albums for N-Coded Music: 1997's Do You Love Me?, 1999's Story of Life, and 2000's The Source. After that, Butler (who turned 40 in October 2001) left N-Coded and moved to Warner Bros., which released Surrender in June 2002.

With the release of 2004's Worship Project, Butler (a life-long Christian) began to find more ways to express his faith alongside his smooth jazz and R&B stylings. Even when he grooved, spirituality was at the center of such albums as Jonathan (2005), Brand New Day (2007), So Strong (2010), and Grace and Mercy (2012). Butler's first-ever holiday album, Merry Christmas to You, appeared in 2013. The following year, he was joined by bassist Marcus Miller, saxophonist Elan Trotman, and others for Living My Dream, and in 2015, he delivered the gospel-infused Free. ~ Alex Henderson
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Living My Dream

1. African Breeze

2. Living My Dream

3. Be Still

4. Let There Be Light

5. Heart And Soul

6. Song For You

7. Catembe

8. Night To Remember

9. All About Love

10. Sweet Serenade

11. A Prayer

x

Track List: Grace And Mercy

1. You're All That I Need

2. Who Is Like The Lord

3. Give It Up To God

4. Grace And Mercy

5. I Stand On Your Word

6. Don't Walk Away

7. Lay My Head On You

8. Trials

9. I Know He Cares

10. Moments Of Worship

11. I Know He Cares (Acoustic Reprise)

x

Track List: So Strong

1. So Strong

2. You Got To Believe In Something

3. Make Room For Me

4. Factual

5. Feels So Good

6. Be Here With You

7. Avia/For My Baby

8. I M Right Here

9. Color Green

10. Good Times

11. I Can See Clearly Now

12. I Pay Respect

13. So Strong Steppers Mix

14. So Strong Urban Ac Remix

x

Track List: Falling In Love With Jesus: Best Of Worship

1. Gonna Lift You Up

2. We Love To Praise Your Name

3. Falling In Love With Jesus

4. I Love To Worship

5. He Is The Lord

6. Love Never Fails

7. Mercy

8. That's Why We Praise Him

9. When We Pray

10. We Need You Lord

x

Track List: Live In South Africa

Disc 1

1. Afrika (Live)

2. If You're Ready (Live)

3. This Is Love (Live)

4. I'm On My Knees (Live)

5. No Woman No Cry (Live)

6. 7th Avenue (Live)

7. Medley (Live)

8. Do You Love Me? (Live)

9. Lies (Live)

10. Dance With Me (Live)

11. Song For Elizabeth (Live)

12. Wake Up (Live)

13. Sarah Sarah (Instrumental) (Live)

14. Sarah Sarah (Mano Mix) (Live)

Disc 2
x

Track List: Jonathan

1. Rio

2. Mandela Bay

3. 10 Degrees South

4. Randy's Song

5. Fire And Rain

6. Precious Things

7. Sweet Island Love

8. Baby Love

9. For A Friend

10. Spirit Of Our Nation

11. Move Me

x

Track List: The Worship Project

1. You're Worthy Of My Praise

2. He Is The Lord

3. Falling In Love With Jesus

4. Lord, I Lift Your Name On High

5. That's Why We Praise Him

6. Don't You Worry

7. It's Already There

8. When We Pray

9. No Matter What

10. No Higher Calling

11. Lord, I'm Ready

12. You Are So Beautiful

x

Track List: Surrender

1. This Is Love

2. Pata Pata

3. Surrender

4. Take Me Back

5. Wake Up

6. Thoughts Of You

7. Back To Love

8. River Of Life

9. Many Faces

10. African Moon

x

Track List: Do You Love Me?

1. Song for Elizabeth

2. Do You Love Me?

3. The Other Side of the World

4. Life After You

5. New Life

6. Dancing on the Shore

7. You Don't Belong To Me

8. The Way You Look Tonight

9. Amen

10. A Kiss

11. Lost To Love

12. My Only Joy

x

Track List: Jonathan Butler

1. Lies

2. Love song, candlelight and you

3. Going home

4. I Miss Your Love Tonight

5. Holding on

6. One more dance

7. Take Good Care Of Me

8. Barenese

9. All over you

10. Overflowing

11. Loving you

12. Sunset

13. Say We'll Be Together

14. Give a little more loving

15. Reunion

16. High Tide

x

Track List: African Breeze (Single)

1. African Breeze

x

Track List: Free

1. Moving On

2. Never Find A Better Love

3. Free

4. I Am That I Am

5. You Are The One

6. Where Would I Be Without You

7. Show Me The Way

8. He Is God

9. Be Encouraged

10. New Day

11. Sing Africa

x

Track List: Heart And Soul (Single)

1. Heart And Soul

Comments

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jfgrant_7611 8
I have Loved his sound for a long time!! An amazing talent!!
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Thank you Pandora, Mr Butler is sensational!
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The first album I heard by him was a a double onhe I believe,l instrumental alnd whoa,! Then I learned he was 19 at the ttime and also playsa his 12 string guitar right=handed , even though he is left hande! Is this true and why didn't the writer mention this? Now I find out he is aa Christian and is giving us gospel gifts? Have to check some of that out quick.hank you Lee Brown for turning me on to him, chet atkins, just to name a few. love me a man with good taste in music.....
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I love this, lost to love, yes I am
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Love this song.......❤
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maliksmomtas i a
He is truly a blessing n inspiration to believers n non believers alike. His music crosses all borders of life. As a believer he makes your faith sing in joy n for non believers he will make u believe. Thank you Jonathan. Please come to Hawaii. Aloha.
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I love his new Free CD!
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Been a fan of Jonathan Butler since his first single hit "Lies"
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Come to Memphis Tennessee when you have time
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"Can't get over the blessing of string musicians I've been unable to hear in years. Jonathan Butler is one. My mother and father always would listen to modern & contemporary jazz, in a constant fashion. I'm just hooked."
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Beautiful sexy song just makes me want to make love to my woman forever
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Pata Pata is such a pretty song! Love it!
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janette
I love Jonathan Butler's music. I saw him a few years ago at the Arena in Huston, TX. I truly enjoyed his concert.
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I heard him about 13 yrs ago.His performance remains in my mind. True singer and guitarist.
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A smooth brother! Love his music!
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jamesoneric7 5 7
can I hear the whole ablum
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Great guitarist & a man after GOD'S Own Heart, a believer in our Lord, Saviour & One True Living GOD, YESHUA!
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Thanks so much Jonathan for all of the beautiful music that you did. I been waiting a lifetime to actually see you in concert and meet you. Love your music.
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I just love to be in my place of business and listen to Jonathan, he makes my day !!!
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he is the most produce,guit a r , s i n g e r and songwriting in the world his name Jonathan butler,Jonat h a n nelson congratulati o n s to all of them really good
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What a wonderful gift that I get to listen to this. Serenity Now!
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dragonlady60 8 8
go sherman....s e a h a w k s
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michele.cart e r 4 4 3
love this guy, so talented!!!
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Yea mon get stuff.Excell e n t performer.Gu i t a r i s t too!
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I have loved his music for years since I was a child and have always been fascinated by his melodic sound and God talent.
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I have loved this man music for years.
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I always loved his music for over 30d years.
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I LUV THIS MAN>>> HES SO BLESSED BY GOD THEE ALMIGHTY !!
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He was a favorite of mine from childhood.
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True C J in its truest sense!!!
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I LOVE THE SOUTH AFRICAN SOUNDS THAT JONATHAN BULTER BRINGS TO HIS MUSIC AND I LOVE PATA-PATA MANY FACES, AND SO MANY OTHERS. I TOO WOULD LIKE TO HEAR MORE OF HIS MUSIC PLAYED. I LOVE THE ALBUM SURRENDER!
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Another talent that emerge out of the mother land,and my favorite song was Sarah Sarah,I love that way he perform that song.
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I always love to hear Jonathan sing ... Would appreciate hearing more from him...
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This song has a uniquie S. African sound, with sprinkles of George Benson like flavor. A beautiful blend.
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South Africa has much beauty, and JB is one of the beautiful things to come out of this country, so don't stop blessing the world with your gift.
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Happy Early Birthday, Jonathan! Keep on what you're doing with your music, I love it,and you!
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Awsme sounz jb. Hi five
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Love his music
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Beautiful song love Jonathan butler nice slow groove.
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Really like this track.
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pecanpie33
I have been a JB fan since More than Friends album. I love it all...Gospel / J a z z at its best. I am still hearing your music during the live performance in Boston at Skulley's in 2011. Your daughter is amazing too! Keep on blessing us Jonathan. I love you.
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j.field1
I remember when pandora was a cool station but now days its just a little b**ch,signin s i g n i n s i g n i n , F O ! I paid for it leave me alone tight asses!
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One of the best musical talents.
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geefaye
There is nothing that JB does that I do not like.
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What she said . . .
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You are magic to my heart keep playing!
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Jonathan I love your music
I'm 62 yrs old and have been to a few of your performances totally convinced your music is arranged to set my spirit free . Thanks for your work in the music industry . Bishop Simmons
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What a powerful song.
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I first heard him in the Richard Jon Smith Show in South Africa in the late seventies, great stuff Jonathan , we so proud of you.
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dotbraxton0
A very unique touch. Can listen to this forever
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