BWW Interview: Jonathan Butler of DAVE KOZ & FRIENDS CHRISTMAS TOUR 2018 at Red Rock Ballroom At Red Rock Casino
South African guitarist/singer Jonathan Butler, after touring with Dave Koz for a decade, will join Koz as a headliner for the holiday season in the 21st annual Dave Koz & Friends Christmas Tour 2018. Other special guests include Mindi Abair, pop/blues saxophonist/singer who will be making her first Christmas Tour appearance; Japanese keyboard sensation Keiko Matsui; and new artist Sheléa. The show will be presented in the Red Rock Ballroom at Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa on Dec. 14.
Butler's life and career have spanned several decades of turbulence from growing up and living in Apartheid South Africa to immigrating to America. Along the way, he built up a worldwide audience, raised his children to adulthood, and survived divorce. Butler shared with BroadwayWorld.com his compelling story.
Who inspired your love of music while growing up?
Jonathan Butler: Both of my parents and my brothers and sisters were musicians, so I grew up with music every day. My mother sang and played piano, and my father also sang and played the guitar and banjo. My brothers are musicians, singers, and play the guitar and drums.
You perform several genres of music especially jazz. What did you choose that for your musical career?
Jonathan Butler: I am a citizen of the world. Since I come from Africa, the music I first learned about was African. Over the years, I have incorporated my love of jazz, pop, R&B, and gospel together and remained a true African artist.
How did your career begin?
Jonathan Butler: After touring and singing since the age of 6, I was awarded a recording contract at the age of 12. I made my first recording covering a Burt Bacharach song, Please Stay, which reached No. 2 on the pop charts in South Africa. Remember, this was during the time of Apartheid when black artists were not played on white radio stations. I received gold records and awards and became famous in my country, but I never did it for fame or glory. I made good money to help my parents. We were rich in music but considered poor. In fact, my family lived in a shack.
Then you signed a record deal in England.
Jonathan Butler: I lived in England for 10 years, and then the record company branched out to New York City. I traveled to New York to record and tour the US.
Now you are based in the United States?
Jonathan Butler: When I was a child and started to sing at the age of 6, I never imagined myself living in America. For the past 25 years, I have lived in Los Angeles.
What differences do you see between audiences in the US and globally?
Jonathan Butler: Audiences from South African will sing my songs back to me while I am performing. It is amazing. I enjoy performing for all people because I am embraced for my style of music and what I represent. There is a real, genuine love from me to my audiences.
Butler released his 23rd album Close To You featuring his reinterpretations of Bacharach's most loved hits, an artist who inspired him as well as shaped Butler's career path.