Music legend Tony Cedras dies at 71

Musician Tony Cedras. Picture: Jason Boud.

Musician Tony Cedras. Picture: Jason Boud.

Published Jan 31, 2024


Cape Town - Tributes have poured in for the legendary musician Tony Cedras.

Born and raised in Elsies River, Tony, born Anthony Andrew Cedras, 71, was a much-loved musician who was also an activist for Khoi culture and music.

His wife Tania Kleinhans-Cedras, 60, said the talented musician passed away after a battle with chronic emphysema, on January 29.

Tania said Tony grew up in a strict Christian household where he played the accordion during open-air church services while his friends played in the street.

She described the iconic instrumentalist’s death as a big loss to the music industry.

“He used to stand on the corners when his family did open-air church services and he played the accordion, he played instruments from a very young age.

“He lived in District 6 but was also staying with his daughter at times, he would live between these two areas.

An emotional Tania teared up as she remembered Tony: “Music was his life, even though he was a qualified welder, music was what he loved to do. He was a full-time musician.

“He was multi-disciplinary when it came to his instruments. He played the trumpet, piano, horns, he played the Khoi bow beautifully.

Tony Cedras joined up with guitarist Errol Dyers to launch the series.

“We sometimes played together and he would ask me to join him on stage but I never played in public. He played the guitar and also sang, he was gifted, that was his blessing.

“He played with a lot of local bands and artists and was always the one, that if any tune or song was being played, Tony would bring a different dynamic to it, he was creative at improvising. He read an audience and was inspired by the energy of the audience, he was intuitive.”

With a rich background in Khoisan history, Tony who enjoyed doing research on the culture of the Khoisan, and loved to spread the knowledge to others.

Tania said: He loved engaging with international students and speaking to them about playing the Khoi bow. Internationally, he performed with big names, including Paul Simon.

“Locally he performed with Mariam Makeba, Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse, Amandla Arts Ensemble, Cliffy Moses and so much more.

“He was a household name in any home where music is central to the family.

“He never liked defining his music, he always said, ‘I don’t want them to say it’s world music’, because his flavours were so intertwined. It was just so natural. He had a classical background. He had a very good ear for music.”

Tania concluded: “He was working on doing a follow-up to one of his albums, I have the tracks, he never got to release it.”

He passed away peacefully at his daughter’s home in Kuilsriver.

His long-time friend Martin Myers said: “I had the privilege to work with Tony on a number of occasions. He spoke at Music Exchange, the conference I run, there is no instrument he could not play. A giant of a man, I mean to be in the ‘Graceland’ band with Paul Simon for decades is nothing short of astounding – a giant from Cape Town and not celebrated in the city of his birth.

“I am heart-broken. Rest easy Tony Cedras. Thank you for your brilliance, my friend.”