A sad loss for SA music

THE passing on of Simon Buthelezi, fondly referred to as Bra Sy, is a serious blow for the music industry

Buthelezi was a walking library on artists and music matters. He was passionate about the industry to the extent of convincing you to come an listen if he thought one of the demo CDs he was listening to had potential.

Needless to say, you would drop everything and rush to his office, where at the end of the session you would be convinced that you not only had a scoop on your hands but that this would be one of your favourite albums.

That passion, enthusiasm and a knack for recognising a winner, is essential in the music industry. Producing an album involves a lot of money and expertise.

Artist and repertoire executives and producers are the holders of the keys to stardom and money. The wrong choice can leave you with egg on your face while, on the other hand, a winner will elevate your status and that of your company.

And what most people don't know is that Buthelezi belonged to the elite group of record executives who are also talent scouts. These are people who can spot a star a mile away. And most importantly, they never give up on their convictions.

They are credible sources who will tell you straightaway that a certain artist will be a star. They hardly ever take you to a fancy restaurant for lunch as is now the norm but, hey, they get their artists on the front pages of glossy magazines and highly sought after newspapers like Sowetan.

The ever friendly Bra Sy loved to play his music and every time I went to number 2 Hood Ave in Rosebank, I would have the time of my life. He would regale me with stories of older artists and what they had been up to at Troubadour Records (before it became Gallo Music).

Strangely, Buthelezi started his career as road manager of the then popular band, the Movers, where he worked with the late David Thekwane.

Bra Sy disappeared from the music industry for some years and and resurfaced at Gallo Music with a company he co-owned with Tom Mkhize, called Sizwe Productions. It was not long before they were incorporated into Gallo Music.

Buthelezi contributed to the success of groups like Sxaxa Mbiji, which was the brainchild of the patron of traditional music, the late Welcome Bhodloza Nzimande.

He worked closely with the likes of Mahlathini and the MaHotella Queens, and the late West Nkosi. Buthelezi also discovered gospel diva Lusanda, amongst others. He was part of the team behind the trailblazing Leeuwkop Prison Choir.

How many people in the industry told him he was doing a great job? Now we are waiting for our turn at the podium to say great things about him, though we never even bothered abut where he went after Gallo and how he lived.

Let us cherish our heroes and heroines while they are still alive. Youngsters need to learn from their seasoned counterparts.

Bra Sy was to the entertainment industry what Jomo Sono is to football as far as discovering talent is concerned.

Otherwise we will remain the creatures we have become and wait for someone to die before shamelessly descending on the corpse until nothing but the bones are left, or kanjani...

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