21/07/2017 17:13 SAST | Updated 21/07/2017 17:13 SAST

Blondie Makhene: Ray Phiri Wanted To Make Sure That No Artist Dies Poor

"We have lost a soldier and he left big shoes for us to fill."

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Musician Blondie Makhene says Ray Phiri's dream was to make sure all artists leave lasting legacies for their families when they die.

Makhene said he has taken over Phiri's responsibilities as the secretary general of the Music Performers Association of South Africa (Mpasa).

Speaking to HuffPost SA, Makhene said through the association, Phiri had started the process of launching a burial society for artists.

He said: "That programme was Ray's baby and he was so passionate about it. He was upset by the number of artists who died penniless. In partnership with B3 Funerals, Phiri set up the society so that no black child will go hungry even if their parents die when they're no longer at the peak of their careers."

Makhene said the music industry has lost a soldier.

"Death has robbed us of a think-tank. This man was a soldier who never gave up and always thought of others. He was always ready to open doors for other artists and he gave without being asked," Makhene told HuffPost SA.

He said Phiri wanted to liberate disadvantaged artists who were robbed by the system.

"The problem with us older artists is that we liberated other people in various sectors and totally forgot about ourselves. We made music for people during the dark days and totally forgot to care about ourselves. Ray was on a quest to change that. He wanted to industrialise the music sector so that people are able to take care of their families, even after they die. He believed that artists are trapped and are dying because of the way the music system works," he told HuffPost SA.

Makhene said he will miss Phiri's tenacity and love for the culture.

"I will miss this brother of mine. He always told me that the youngsters need us to fix up our act before we depart the earth so they don't have to work as hard as we did. He made me believe that we can leave a better industry for our children to flourish in."

Phiri died lung cancer on July 12 at the Nelspruit Mediclinic.

He will be laid to rest at the Hero's Acre following a funeral service at the Mbombela Stadium.