Veteran musician and songwriter, Jabu Khanyile, died in his Soweto home on Saturday (Nov. 11). He was 49.
Khanyile had been ill for several months, and had been receiving treatment for prostrate cancer. Khanyile, a diabetic, recently had to cancel a scheduled performance, along with singer Busi Mhlongo, for an event to promote several artists signed to Chissa Entertainment, Hugh Masekela’s record label.
Mhlongo is suffering from breast cancer and there are unconfirmed reports that Khanyile was working on an album that would highlight the issue of cancer amongst black South Africans.
Khanyile was a multiple South Africa Music Awards winner and also had several Kora All Africa Awards to his name. His most recent SAMA nomination came this year when his 2005 album, “Hiyo Lento” (Heita!) was up for best adult contemporary: African album.
His real triumph was in 1994 when the title track of his album “MmaloWe,'” with his band Bayete, received a SAMA as song of the year. Khanyile was also named best male performer.
Khanyile was a member of seminal South African groups the Editions and the Movers. It wasn’t until he co-formed Bayete in the late 80s that he was able to hone his sound. A mixture of traditional music with African pop, Khanyile is regarded as a pioneer in bringing back long-forgotten music forms and ideas. Over the years, he had become increasingly pan-Africanist in his outlook.
Khanyile leaves seven children.