-- On the wrong side of South Africa's racial divide
by Keith Addison
South Africa, 1974
by Keith Addison
Aaron "Big Voice Jack" Lerole -- my brother Jake -- died on Wednesday morning, March 12, 2003. I knew he'd died, though I only heard the news five days later in a letter from a friend. I was talking to Midori about it two days before, and was about to do an Internet search for news of him, before trying to call from here in Japan. But I knew he was dead. That's happened to me before, when other people I've loved very much have died. It happens to quite a lot of people, though in today's sceptical world they tend to explain it away.
Other than feeling for the man himself, for who and what he was, for the times we'd spent together and the things we'd shared, for the times we hadn't shared since I left all those years ago, and for the wrench at his loss -- Can it really be true that I'll never see Jake again? -- what I felt was a swelling sadness that the world could not be quite so bright a place again with no Jake in it.
He's been much on my mind in the days since then, in full focus or in the background. And I see that there is no such thing as a world with no Jake in it. Jake made a difference with his life, he made so many differences, big and small -- so many things now, and perhaps even more so in the future, would not be the same, or would not be at all, were it not for Jake. He touched so many people, personally and with his music and the sheer magical spirit he infused it with, infused into everything he did. A world without kwela? Without mbaqanga? Without groaners? No. Without Jake? No. The world is a brighter place.
Jake was one of the best people I've ever known. I've never stopped missing him in all these years since we parted in Johannesburg that day. I never will.
City Press News
Big Voice left behind ornate musical legacy
by Welcome Skosana
BIG Voice Jack, the legendary kwela artist with a resonant voice, has finally succumbed to throat cancer, just days after telling City Press he thought he was well on his way to recovery.
Big Voice Jack, born Aaron Lerole, had, throughout his life, defied the odds.
Lerole, who had refused to undergo surgery and denied reports from doctors that he was suffering from cancer, had claimed he was bewitched and poisoned.
According to a close family friend, on Wednesday morning Lerole went to visit a local traditional healer. He returned home and rested. Soon thereafter, he died.
Lerole's health has been deteriorating since last year. He had consulted throat specialists in New York, Belgium and locally, who all concurred Lerole had throat cancer.
Last week Lerole spoke to City Press in a barely audible tone about his new album Zimanukwenzweka (Things just happen), which he worked on in collaboration with Zimbabwean guitarist Louis Mhlanga.
A memorial service will held at the Newtown music hall, formerly Mega Music, in Goch Street, Newtown, at 10 am on Thursday. The funeral will take place on March 22.
Richard Woodin, label manager for Sheer Sounds, said: "Jack Lerole passed away at a ripe old age. The actual age is difficult to determine as Jack kept this a bit of a secret, and formalised details are sketchy. Jack played his pennywhistles until the day he died.
"In fact this is meant quite literally. Jack and nine of his many students from the Kwela School Of Music in Diepkloof appeared and performed at the Bassline in Melville the night before he died, dressed to the nines.
"Fortunately Jack leaves behind him many positive memories as well as a rich and elaborate musical legacy that was his life," he said.
During his career, Lerole played with legendary jazz giants McCay Davashe, Zakes Nkosi and Kippie Moeketsi.
One World Music
Big Voice Jack -- The Demise Of A Legend
It is with deep regret and much sorrow in our hearts that we inform you of the death of one of South Africa's true musical legends. Aaron "Big Voice Jack" Lerole passed away peacefully on Wednesday 12th March at a ripe old age. (The actual age is difficult to determine as Jack kept this a bit of a secret, and formalised details are sketchy) A true gentleman, from the old school, Jack will be missed by many. He is succeeded by his large family, his many enthusiastic penny whistle students, and those many friends and admirers that he picked up along his life's intricate and winding journey. "Big Voice Jack" had been struggling against throat cancer for some time. This never did stop him though. Always of a sunny and positive disposition, Jack played his pennywhistles 'til the day he died. In fact this is meant quite literally, Jack and nine of his many students from the Kwela School Of Music in Diepkloof appeared and performed at the Bassline in Melville the night before he passed on, dressed to the nines! Fortunately Jack leaves behind him many positive memories in our hearts and minds that can never be forgotten, as well as a rich and elaborate musical legacy that was his life. This is not the time or place for a ream of biographical information, suffice to say that South Africa's premier and most experienced penny whistler is gone. He finished recording his most recent album "Zimanukwenzeka (things just happen) (with Louis Mhlanga as co-producer), and was able to launch this album last month at the Bassline, and this quality album, we feel, would have left him well pleased and satisfied wherever he now rests.
Reviews of Colours & Moods by Big Voice Jack at Amazon.com
This Charming Man
Reviewer: freedom70 from New York, NY United States:
"I heard Big Voice Jack play live in South Africa, and I went to buy the CD the next day. The album is almost as good as Jack is live. All that's missing is the man himself. But his charm comes through his music. It's light, soothing and joyful. I'm just sorry more of his music is not available, I'd buy it all."
Colour me happy!
Reviewer: A music fan from New Jersey, USA:
"This CD is awesome! After buying it, my husband and I listened to it over and over again throughout a weekend. Big Voice Jack plays the pennywhistle -- sometimes two or three of them at a time! He is a talented, versatile musician. The music on this CD is full of joy and completely danceable. There are many instrumental-only tracks, but one or two voice tracks as well. We woke up with the music playing in our heads. It was wonderful. Treat yourself and buy this one!"
Colours And Moods
Zimanukwenzeka - Things Just Happen
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