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Sunday Times STLive By ISAAC MAHLANGU, 2012-04-08

Giants of SA music win high honour

Music icons Ray Phiri and Vusi Mahlasela will be honoured with lifetime achiever awards at the 18th annual MTN SA Music Awards ceremony later this month.

MTN Sama chief executive Randall Abrahams said the two had made an "invaluable contribution" to SA culture.

"And they have exported that same culture to the rest of the world," he said.

Phiri, the founder of legendary music group Stimela, played a role in the creation of Paul Simon's Grammy-winning "Graceland" album.

The Nelspruit-born musician has performed abroad many times in a career that has spanned over 40 years.

President Jacob Zuma conferred the Order of Ikhamanga in Silver on Phiri last year for what the Presidency described as "his contribution to the South African music industry and for using the arts as an instrument for social transformation".

Phiri entered the music scene as a teen in the '60s and has been a household name for decades.

Mahlasela, a guitar player and vocalist known in music circles as "The Voice", has been in the industry for 20 years.

He performed at the inauguration of Nelson Mandela as SA's first democratically elected president in 1994. His career took off after the release of his 1992 album "When You Come Back".