By Bill Vaughan
South African singer-guitarist Jonathan Butler’s musical story began at age 12 when he recorded a Burt Bacharach song, “Please Stay.” Now 56, Butler has come full circle with his 23rd album, “Close To You,” an 11-song project featuring the compositions of Bacharach and his lyricist partner Hal David.
Gemstones from the mid-60s to early 70s include vocal versions of “The Look Of Love,” “Walk On By,” “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again,” “This Guy’s In Love With You” and the lead single, “What The World Needs Now Is Love,” plus instrumental versions of “Do You Know The Way To San Jose’” and “I Say A Little Prayer.”
A surprise for longtime fans and music arbiters alike, “Close To You” emanates from a deeply profound space in Butler’s heart and a richly serendipitous time in his life.
Following a 35-year marriage that ended in divorce, Butler found himself immersed in darkness… “behind a tomb-like Jericho wall of my own building where I was hiding, freaked out.”
He was literally going through the fire when one broke out in his kitchen giving him second-degree burns on the very day he had written the now-standard Contemporary Christian anthem, “Be Encouraged.”
Living in California but flying to Texas every weekend to lead praise and worship at a small church, Butler was brooding in introspection though surrounded by counsel, friends, church family and daughters who had moved in with him.
A month later he was introduced to young violinist Nadira Kimberly, also newly divorced, who he now calls his soulmate. Her presence in his life is the inspiration behind the Artistry Music release and she is featured on the title track.
On “Alfie,” Butler admitted to having to reach a level of maturity to sing it.
“The lyric is so profound,” he said. “At the start, I am having a chat with the listener. Then at the end where it says, ‘Without love, we just exist’ … what a revelation! We all have many things to sort out in life but this is said in such a beautiful way. ‘When you walk, let your heart lead the way/Then you’ll find love any day’.”
Reflecting upon his roots in poverty and apartheid in Cape Town, Butler adds, “What I am seeing today in America truly hurts my heart. I know what it is to see a ‘whites only’ sign. There are three things that are important for a black man to know: Who you are, where you are, and when you speak, be bold, loud enough for everybody to hear. Many people that come to my concerts, I can see, are still conflicted. When I am among them, I am very open and real. I tell them my story.”
“It brings to mind a scripture I love which states, ‘Blessed be the Lord who causes us to triumph in the end’.”
CLIPPETTES: J Cole’s KOD Tour hits Staples Center Aug. 24. Also that evening, T.I., E-40, Fabolous, Juvenile, Scarface with Suga Free & Spice 1 lead the Rap Show at the Shrine Auditorium and Chaka Khan is in concert at the Hyatt Regency Newport Beach …
Are you ready for “Naked with Niecy Nash?” TNT is expanding its relationship with the “Claws” star by ordering to pilot a late-night talk show for her to host and executive produce …
“Dancing With the Stars” judge Carrie Ann Inaba hosts the sixth annual IAWTV Awards at a gala celebration honoring the best in streaming series starting at 8 p.m. Aug. 24 at the Skirball Cultural Center …
George Benson, Ledisi and José James celebrating Bill Withers are set for the Hollywood Bowl Aug 29 …
Bruno Mars has replaced the departing Cardi B with special guests Boys II Men, Charlie Wilson, Ciara and Ella Mai for the upcoming U.S. dates of his 24K Magic World Tour this fall. Produced by Live Nation, the shows arrive at Staples Center Oct. 23, 24, 26 and 27 …
Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama “Sweat” begins a run from Aug. 29 to Oct. 7 at the Mark Taper Forum with an impressive cast including Kevin T. Carroll, John Earl Jelks and Michael O’Keefe.
TC ON TV: Aug. 24 – “The After Party” (Netflix): Blair Underwood, Teyana Taylor, Wiz Khalifa and French Montana are featured in this original comedy movie. “The Contender” (Epix): The TV boxing reality competition is revived with a new host in undefeated boxing champion Andre Ward and 16 middleweight fighters overseen by legendary boxing coach Freddie Roach and renowned Philadelphia trainer Naazim Richardson. “Nick Cannon Presents: Wild ‘N Out” (MTV): This is the episode that set rapper Azealia Banks off! Lil Yachty and Javale McGee participate. “SafeWord” (MTV): Michael B. Jordan vs. Steelo Brim
Aug. 25 – “CBS Saturday Morning” (CBS): Chef Mashama Bailey of The Grey in Savannah, Georgia will serve up her thoughts and dishes. “Drew Michael” (HBO): Jerrod Carmichael directs this unconventional stand-up special.
Aug. 26 – “Celebrity Family Feud” (ABC): Vanilla Ice vs. Kim Fields and Ice-T & Coco vs. Vivica A. Fox. “Fear The Walking Dead” (AMC): Darryl “Chill” Mitchell joins the cast tonight. “$100,000 Pyramid” (ABC): Rita Moreno, Leslie Jones and Justina Machado.
Aug. 27 – “Sister Circle” (TV1): Trina Braxton (“Braxton Family Values”) is joining first-year hosts Rashan Ali, Syleena Johnson and Quad Webb-Lunceford on the lively, daily talk show.
Aug. 28 – “Greenleaf” (OWN): The church drama returns with a two-night kick-off continuing the next night. Iyanla Vanzant, Patti LaBelle and Beau Bridges guest star this third season. “The Shop” (HBO): LeBron James and Maverick Carter‘s barbershop set talker premieres with Snoop Dogg, footballers Odell Beckham Jr. and Alvin Kamara, hoopsters Draymond Green and Candace Parker, and comic Jon Stewart.
Aug. 29 – “Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party” (VH1): Ty Dolla $ign, Wanda Sykes and Lance Bass cook up some po’ boys and grits. Then Laverne Cox, Gary Owen and Lil Yachty explore Indian cuisine.
TASTY QUIP: “America has no royalty. But we do have a chance to earn something more enduring. For more than six decades since, every time she sang, we were all graced with a glimpse of the divine. Through her compositions and unmatched musicianship, Aretha helped define the American experience. In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade—our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect. She helped us feel more connected to each other, more hopeful, more human. And sometimes she helped us just forget about everything else and dance.” – BARACK and MICHELLE OBAMA on Aretha Franklin [R.I.P.]
As featured in the Los Angeles Wave and Independent, Tasty Clips is one of the leading entertainment newspaper columns on the West Coast, serving nearly one million weekly readers. To reach Bill Vaughan, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @tastyclips.