LOOKING BACK #RayPhiri: Legendary artist meets master blender

The legend… Grammy award winning South African musician Ray Phiri.

Sitting at The Maslow Hotel in Sandton, Phiri compared himself to a whisky master blender. “I’m more of a wordsmith in music like a master blender is a master with his whisky.”

He explained, “Like me, a master blender works on his art to get it to be what he has envisioned it to be, and is never satisfied with his creation. He thus carries on and on until he creates his master piece that can be consumed by the whisky connoisseur.”

Phiri has partnered with whisky brand Glenlivet, and will be part of the Glenlivet Legacy Live exclusive event taking place at Kramerville in Sandton on 28 November.

Glenlivet will honour Phiri and his 47-year-old music career. He has been instrumental in encouraging the international appreciation of world music, supporting the anti-apartheid movement and developing the arts in Africa.

He is best known for his band Stimela, which he started in 1981. They have produced songs like Zwakala, Whispers in the deep and Look, listen and decide. Phiri received a Grammy Award for his contribution to the international Graceland Tour which began in 1987, and later won Album of the Year at the Grammys that same year, as well as Record of the Year at the Grammy Awards in 1988.

“I am younger than the songs that I have written,” said Phiri. Through his music, he has communicated his fears and private thoughts. He said the songs have contributed in making him a better human being.

Phiri also said that what had him interested in the whisky brand was that it is aligned itself to the legacy he wants to leave behind as an artist. “Glenlivet is about evolution and expression which is exactly what I am made of,” he explained.

“Like a master blender, I am led by my quest and curiosity to create songs that will outlive me.”

Also read: Ray Phiri lights up the stage

This was first published in November 2014.

Gugu Zwane

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