It’s a sad day for the South African music industry today. The legendary jazz musician Ray Phiri has succumbed to his battle with lung cancer in the early hours of this morning. The 70-year-old star has been battling the disease for over two months and, unfortunately, the aggressiveness of the cancer became too much for him.

Ray made a name for himself as a founding member of the Cannibals in the 1970s. Later, the Cannibals would grow in size and rename themselves, becoming the hugely influential Afro-fusion band Stimela. He also joined forces with Paul Simon on his Graceland project back in 1985 alongside Ladysmith Black Mambazo and performed on stages in Central Park and Madison Square Garden.

“Let me suffer [in peace with my] pain, on my own with my dignity,” Ray said in an interview earlier this month confirming his battle with the disease. The star also revealed that he has depleted his medical aid savings and personal money battling the cancer which sparked a massive crowd-funding project to help pay for his medical bills.

The star, who was expected to perform at the upcoming Rocking The Daisies festival, once said that “Music is spiritual. It provides healing and reflection, and it should add value. Emotion should shine through, and a healthy respect for the audience is required.” He made a difference thanks to his love of music. The impact he had on South Africa and South Africans themselves is tremendous and his death is a massive loss for the country. Rest in peace, Ray and thank you for the music.

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