Surrounded by children who danced with joy, Jonathan Butler, visited the Tshwane School of Music today of which he is Patron.
Butler visited the school to pay homage to the children who had inspired him to launch the Jonathan Butler Foundation, the reason why he is in South Africa this heritage week. The Jonathan Butler Foundation is established to help young people who are at risk by providing them with the means to create and develop a new heritage for themselves. Butler will be an active contributor to the Foundation and its work, returning to South Africa as often as his hectic touring and recording schedule will allow. The Foundation will roll-out several music related programmes and art therapy interventions across the country. Some of these have already been implemented in communities such as Eersterust.
And to demonstrate to the audience just how much can be accomplished in only six months, 10 bands performed a variety of songs which had Butler and the crowd repeatedly on their feet with applause. No stage fright was apparent, after all, they have had far harder challenges to contend with.
How it all began
In 2012, Butler met Freddy Arendse, founder and CEO of the Tshwane School of Music and was introduced to the school’s first youth band, Freeborn, which is made up of four kids under the age of 12 years. The band performed for Butler and, because he was so impressed by them, Freeborn subsequently opened for one of Butler’s concerts. The school then asked if he would become the Patron of the school and Butler accepted willingly.
While the Jonathan Butler Foundation has been a dream of the international music icon for many years, it was the meeting with Arendse that could make a reality. “I didn’t want to die and then have someone suggest ‘why don’t we do something to remember Jonathan Butler?’ I want to create a living legacy while I am still around to contribute to the initiative”, said Butler who was visibly emotional while surrounded by all the excited children. “It has taken time to implement this project as it of the utmost importance to work with the right people. Through the Tshwane School of Music, I now have the right team to assist me in making this dream come true”.
Aiming to replicate the success of the Tshwane School of Music around South Africa, the Foundation is already in discussion with several partners and sponsors. “Without the support of the likes of the Tshwane Metro, who have donated this building where we are today or the Gauteng Provincial Government who are engaged with us in Eldorado Park and the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, this project would possibly still be on the drawing board,” said Butler.
After the sold out Eersterust concert last night, a seemingly inexhaustible Jonathan Butler who has been performing for over 30 years will close his Grace and Mercy tour at Rhema Bible Church in Randburg on Saturday 28th September. True to his core, he has insisted that tickets are available and affordable for everybody and has made sure that tickets will be on sale at the venue itself.
“I am 100% here”, Butler assured his Eersterust fans last night. If passion is an ingredient for long term success, the Jonathan Butler Foundation will enjoy longevity because its patron and founder is and always will remain, a man whose heart beats for his community.