Jonathan Butler

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Jonathan Butler
Jonathan Butler in 2007
Jonathan Butler in 2007
Background information
Birth nameJonathan Kenneth Butler
Born (1961-10-10) 10 October 1961 (age 61)
Athlone, Cape Town, South Africa[1]
GenresRhythm and blues, jazz fusion, contemporary worship music
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
Instrument(s)Vocals, guitar
LabelsArtistry, Mountain, Jive, Rendezvous

Jonathan Kenneth Butler (born 10 October 1961) is a South African singer-songwriter and guitarist.[1] His music is often classified as R&B, jazz fusion or worship music.


Born and raised in Athlone, Cape Town, South Africa, during Apartheid, Butler started singing and playing acoustic guitar as a child. Racial segregation and poverty during Apartheid has been the subject of many of his records.[2] His first single was the first by a black artist played by white radio stations in the racially segregated South Africa and earned a Sarie Award, South Africa's equivalent to the Grammy Awards.

He began touring at the age of seven when he joined a travelling stage show, and was later signed up to perform on a string of hit recordings, turning him into a local teen idol. In 1975, his cover of "Please Stay" by the Drifters reached number 2 in South Africa.[3] The same year his cover of "I Love How You Love Me" by The Paris Sisters reached number 4. "I'll Be Home" reached number 16 in 1976.

In 1978, he found the inspiration and encouragement to begin expressing himself as a composer and songwriter when he joined Cape Town's best known jazz/rock outfit, the Pacific Express. Two albums were recorded with the Express personnel, and some Pacific Express songs were later released on the 1988 7th Avenue album. All three releases were issued by Mountain Records.

Butler was signed to CCP Records, a predecessor to Jive Records in 1977. He left the label to join Mountain Records after a few years. The manager of Mountain Records, Paddy Lee-Thorp was also Butler's manager and in the early 1980s they signed Jonathan to Jive Records and he moved to the United Kingdom, where he remained for seventeen years. His international breakthrough came in 1987 with his Grammy-nominated hit single, "Lies" which reached #27 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart, and his cover version of the Staple Singers song "If You're Ready (Come Go with Me)", which he performed with Ruby Turner. His single "Lies", also reached the UK Official Singles Chart, peaking at number 18, spending 12 weeks, in total, in the top 100.[4]

In 2001, Butler was featured in a compilation album that was a jazz tribute to Bob Marley produced by Lee Ritenour, A Twist of Marley. Butler's contribution to the album was a jazz cover of No Woman No Cry.

Butler maintained a loyal following in the 1980s and 1990s, in South Africa, the United States and Europe.

Wayman Tisdale & Jonathan Butler CD release party at the AllStar Rendezvous Concert in 2006.

In 2006, Butler was a featured vocalist on the album Gospel Goes Classical, produced by University of Alabama at Birmingham music professor Henry Panion. This recording, featuring arrangements by Panion, Tommy Stewart, Michael Loveless, and Ray Reach, rose to No. 2 on the Billboard Gospel chart, and No. 3 on the Classical Crossover chart.[5] He was also nominated for a Grammy Award for his single "Going Home".

Also in 2008, Butler guest-starred on George Duke's Album Dukey Treats, alongside the late Teena Marie on the track Sudan, talking about the disasters of Darfur.

From 2005 to 2012 Butler lived in Bell Canyon, California,[6]


Jonathan Butler in 1996

Studio albums[edit]

Year Album Chart positions Certifications
US Jazz
US Con.

US Gospel
1975 I Love How You Love Me
1983 Crossroads
1985 Introducing Jonathan Butler 101 46
1987 Jonathan Butler 50 13 12 12
Put My Love Away
1988 More Than Friends 113 17 10 29
1990 Deliverance
Heal Our Land 58 2
1991 Harmony 5
1994 Head to Head 32
1997 Do You Love Me? 57 4 3
1999 Story of Life 9 6
2000 The Source 14 11
2002 Surrender 10 9
2004 The Worship Project 16
2005 Gospel Days
Jonathan 84 8 5 10
2006 Gospel Goes Classical
(with Juanita Bynum)
146 2
2007 Brand New Day 6
2010 So Strong 7 2
2012 Grace and Mercy 1 1 9
2013 Merry Christmas to You 9 2 12
2014 Living My Dream 3 1
2015 Free 5 1 13
2018 Close to You 4 2
2019 Christmas Together 3 2
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.

Live albums[edit]

  • Live in South Africa (2007)

Compilation albums[edit]

  • Best of Jonathan Butler (1993)
  • Ultimate Butler (2002)
  • Christmas Goes Gospel: Tis the Season (2014)
  • Divine Voices: Pastors of Praise (2015)


  • Dave Grusin Presents West Side Story (1997) (Featured soloist - Maria)[13]


Year Single Peak chart positions
1975 "Please Stay"
"I Love How You Love Me"
1976 "Fundamental Reggae"
"I'll Be Home"
1984 "I'll Be Waiting for Your Love"
1986 "If You're Ready (Come Go with Me)" (with Ruby Turner) 58 30
"Haunted by Your Love"
"Baby Please Don't Take It (I Need Your Love)" 25
1987 "Lies" 27 5 16 18
"Holding On" 22 92
"(You're) the Girl of My Dreams"
"Take Good Care of Me" 10 24 89
1988 "True Love Never Fails"
"More than Friends" 4 48
"Sarah, Sarah" 7
"There's One Born Every Minute (I'm a Sucker for You)" 9
1989 "It's So Hard to Let You Go"
1990 "Heal Our Land" 45
"Sing Me Your Love Song" 66
"Welcome Home"
"All Grow'd Up"
1994 "I'm on My Knees" 53
1995 "Can We Start All Over Again" 61
1998 "Lost to Love" 68
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.


  1. ^ a b "Jonathan Butler Page". Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  2. ^ Henderson, Alex. "Biography: Jonathan Butler". AMG. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  3. ^ Brian Currin. "South African Rock Lists Website - SA Charts 1969 - 1989 Acts (B)". Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  4. ^ a b c "JONATHAN BUTLER - full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  5. ^ "Gospel Goes Classical, Vol. 1 - Juanita Bynum/Jonathon Butler". Archived from the original on 11 November 2010.
  6. ^ "Jonathan Butler's House (former) in Bell Canyon, CA (Google Maps)". Retrieved 9 December 2016.
  7. ^ "Chart History: Jonathan Butler - BILLBOARD 200". Billboard. Archived from the original on 18 November 2021. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  8. ^ "Chart History: Jonathan Butler - TOP R&B/HIP-HOP ALBUMS". Billboard. Archived from the original on 18 November 2021. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  9. ^ "Chart History: Jonathan Butler - JAZZ ALBUMS". Billboard. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  10. ^ "Chart History: Jonathan Butler - CONTEMPORARY JAZZ ALBUMS". Billboard. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  11. ^ "Chart History: Jonathan Butler - TOP GOSPEL ALBUMS". Billboard. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  12. ^ "Jonathan Butler - Jonathan Butler (album)". Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  13. ^ "West Side Story". Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  14. ^ a b c "Jonathan Butler Top Songs / Chart Singles Discography". Music VF. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  15. ^ For Ruby Turner collaboration: "Ruby Turner | Awards". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 16 December 2014. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  16. ^ "IF YOU'RE READY (COME GO WITH ME) FT JONATHAN BUTLER". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 28 July 2022.

External links[edit]