Return-to-Roots Album Ubuntu Releasing on April 28th Via Artistry Music / Mack Avenue Music Group

Features Special Guests Including Marcus Miller, Stevie Wonder, Keb’ Mo’

March 31, 2023: Beloved singer/guitarist and “Son of the Soil” Jonathan Butler shares the first single and title track from his new album, Ubuntu, which will be available everywhere on April 28th via Artistry Music/Mack Avenue Music Group. The 11 track collection celebrates his South African roots and was produced in Johannesburg by Marcus Miller (Miles Davis, Luther Vandross.) Ubuntu is Butler’s tenth album for the label and his twenty-eighth release overall. The first track “Ubuntu” is available today, stream the song here.

 Joining Butler on “Ubuntu” is Marcus Miller on bass, keys and bass clarinet, Ernie Smith on guitar, Mornay Hoffmeestet and Russell Gunn on trumpet. The track was co-written by Butler and Miller. Butler recalls the origins of the track writing, “The groove was so infectious, the Bass just grabbed me – this is true pure energy! I told Marcus, ‘We gotta make a record together.’”

Butler defines Ubuntu as, “A philosophy based in South Africa and spread by Archbishop Desmond Tutu which states, ‘I am me because of you. You are you because of me. We are not separate. We are connected. Sometimes, it is something to seek. Other times it is clear to see. We are One People. All the tribes from Zulu to Gaza embrace this – passed on from generation to generation – and shared amongst every tribe in every village. Sharing my life with you is Ubuntu.”

In a time when artists of optimism are at a premium, Butler is a shining example of purposeful excellence. From recording local hits as a teenager growing up during the apartheid of South Africa, Butler went on to become a world-renowned singer, guitarist and songwriter delivering soulful salvos of R&B, gospel, jazz and pop. Touring professionally by age 7, Butler’s first single, “Please Stay,” was the first by a Black artist played on white radio in segregated South Africa and won a Sarie Award (the country’s equivalent to a Grammy). Committed to conveying stirring messages of freedom and unity through his music, Jonathan became a national icon. His music even provided solace to Nelson Mandela, who later met Butler and told him that listening to his music had helped him endure time in prison.

On his upcoming album Butler swings full circle back to his homeland, marinating in all the richness of its musical culture yet with a message for the brotherhood and sisterhood of humanity around the globe. His message of understanding and encouragement, he says, “Life is hard but the Spirit is powerful and there is strong spirit in this music.”

Ubuntu is comprised of both emotionally moving instrumentals such as the title track (a harmonic convergence of ostinatos) and the tenderly gorgeous “Peace in Shelter” co-composed with Yellowjackets keyboardist Russell Ferrante (one of three featuring Butler’s wife Nadira Kimberly Scruggs on violin) and vocals that include the message songs “Rainbow Nation” (about the ongoing battle of Equalizers vs. Dividers), “Our Voices Matter” (‘If we look within, we won’t go without’) and “When Love Comes In” featuring blues singer Keb’Mo’.  The instant attention grabber is a cover of Stevie Wonder’s classic “Superwoman” with Wonder on harmonica.

Jonathan Butler sees himself as a messenger more than ever before despite a past that has found him balancing pop hits like “Lies” and “Sarah Sarah” with gospel gems and jazz mood music. During America’s soul-numbing days of the COVID pandemic, Black Lives Matter, a too close for comfort presidential race and an economy on the ropes, a shut-in Butler was restless. “The death of George Floyd polarized or awakened musicians I know,” he states. “Some spoke out, others did not, claiming, ‘I’m an artist not a politician!’ My song ‘Our Voices Matter’ came out of that. You’re either silent and complicit or you speak out.”

Through Ubuntu his messages of love, peace and unity ring strong and true because they emanate from the heart of a man who has witnessed and experienced the most glowing of good triumphs over the darkest of evils. Like the philosophy of Ubuntu he shares on his latest album, and the great men Tutu, Mandela and Wonder before him, Butler has a vision to do even more to attain peace and collaboration among all people to change the world through music.

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