In collaboration with Harmocept Events, the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) are honoured to have hosted an inaugural event in recognition and celebration of the legendary Ray Phiri. Presented at the Emnotweni Arena in Nelspruit on the 31st of October 2018, the province of Mpumalanga saw local and international attendance of fans, friends, family and various delegations to the first inaugural Ray Phiri Memorial Lecture. The list of guest speakers and contributors included the likes of Mr Charles Mabaso, Acting Deputy Director General from the National Department of Arts and Culture and Professor Rachmond Harward from the University of Mpumalanga.
Aimed at paying tribute to Ray Phiri, the inaugural Ray Phiri Memorial Lecture recognised the numerous awards he received in recognition of his contribution in the music industry. Amongst those awards was the Order of Ikhamanga in Silver, which was prized to him by the President of South Africa on the 27th of April 2011.
Raymond "Just Now" Phiri was known as a South African jazz, fusion and mbaqanga musician native from the province of Mpumalanga. Having collaborated with non-other than Paul Simon together with Ladysmith Black Mambazo and having released a record to feature on Paul Simon's "Graceland" Album in 1985, Phiri played a paramount role in encouraging social transformation throughout South African History.
As part of his collaboration with Paul Simon, Phiri later went on to feature in Simon's “Rhythm of the Saints” album which had Phiri tour to more than 30 nations during 1990 and 1991 including to Central Park, New York for Paul Simon's Concert in the Park as well as Madison Square Garden and a guest appearance on Saturday Night Live.
Using the arts and music as an instrument in uniting communities, Phiri and his band Stimela inspired many artists to play their part in the South African struggle against the oppressive government. He made South Africa proud and placed the country’s most talented musicians and their music on some of the world’s top selling albums of that time. During his tenure, Phiri gave an abundance back to this country by way of music and the arts so that generations to come can remember his legacy, the struggle and the tumultuous journey travelled to get to where we are today. Included on his CV, together with Stimela, Phiri and his band went on to release a number of records including;
1982: Fire, Passion and Ecstasy
1985: Shadows, Fear and Pain
1986: Look, Listen and Decide
1987: Unfinished Story
1983: Rewind (EP)
1985: Shadows Fear and Pain (EP)
1989: Trouble in the Land of Plenty
1995: Don't Ask Why
1995: Are You Ready (Live)
1987: The Unfinished Story
1996: Out of the Ashes
2000: Steam Tracks (Best of)
2001: Live At The Market Theatre - 1st Half (Live)
2002: The 2nd Half (Live)
2010: A Lifetime...
2011: Turn on the Sun
Having endured a number of tragedies that would take place later in his life including the loss of his wife, band manager and 6 other band associates, Phiri succumbed to illness at the age of 70 on the 12th of July 2017 passing away in his place of Birth in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga.