Minister Nathi Mthethwa pays tribute to Reuben Malusi Khemese

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28 Sep 2016

Reuben Malusi Khemese, alongside his brothers, Sandile and Thami, were founding members of the Soweto String Quartet. Coming from a highly talented, musical family, two of them became violinists for the Soweto Symphony Orchestra. Having played together since 1978, it would be much later in 1989 that they took the plunge and together with their friend, Makhosini Mnguni, established the Soweto String Quartet.

“We are shocked and saddened by the sudden passing of the cellist, Reuben Khemese. Together with his other group members, the Soweto String Quartet captured the imagination of the public both in South Africa and in the rest of the world, “ said Minister Nathi Mthethwa.

“They used what some would label classical music instruments to express African sounds. Their range was vast. They combined Kwela with jazz and Mbaqanga among other musical forms, into melodic tunes that a generation of South Africans could hum in their heads and know by heart. They also captured the spirit of our times with their often joyous music as if to emulate and encourage the democratic victory cemented in the mid 1990s. They have remained true to their roots and also played their music faithful to the vision of an African re-awakening."

Albums such as “Zebra Crossing” and “Renaissance” took the country by storm. Their latest and 11th album, Collections, was released in March this year.In the spirit of social cohesion, they have even performed and recorded their own interpretations of Afrikaans hit songs. Not content to be confined to the music of a particular period or genre, they have also collaborated with Hip Hop musicians and recently worked together with Double HP to break musical boundaries.

In an interview, Reuben Khemese explained that: "I was born in Sophiatown and am proud of being a Jo'burger, I love Jo'burg….I like the spirit and atmosphere of Johannesburg, it has a special place in my heart, and I realise this specially when I am away from home for a long time - I get homesick.”

“We have fond memories of Reuben Khemese in performance. We shall remember him, his evergreen music, his commitment to his family and society and his rootedness. His musical legacy lives on. Our condolences go to the remaining members of the quartet, to the entire Khemese family, to all their friends and fans, both here and abroad,” said Minister Mthethwa.

For more information, contact: Lisa Combrinck at 082 821 4886