WINDHOEK– Legendary soul singer, Percy Sledge, who died last week at age 74 in Louisiana, United Sates of America (USA), inspired many singers in Namibia.
As a black American soul singer his music captured the imaginations of many black Namibians and inspired would-be and established local musicians. Namibia’s popular soul singer, Simon ‘Sledge’ Kanime has adapted his stage name, Sledge, from the legendary gap tooth vocalist and the name has stuck up to this day. “When I started singing at the age of 12, my father used to play Sledge’s music a lot and I came across a song titled When a men loves a women. I performed a song to an audience and from there a friend of mine started calling me Sledge. I sing his songs all the time and I know all the songs,” says Kanime.
Kanime adds that even though he has known that Sledge has not been well for quite some time now, he has not taken it well when he heard about his death. In tribute of Sledge, Kanime hosted a mini gathering at his house where he invited people to watch DVDs and listen to Sledge’s music on a big monitor. “It was really sad when I heard that he passed on. He inspired me a lot. He was the king of soul,” he says.
Namibians came to know Sledge when he toured South Africa in the mid-60s using local musicians as his backing group including veteran Flugenhorn Willy Neti who would in later years relocate to South West Africa (Namibia today) where he was to team up with the legendary multiple musicians, Baby Tjirimuje, forming the a band Sensation. In the intervening years, Sledge also toured Namibia two times.
Music lover, Slugger Imbili, says Sledge was one of their role models earlier in the days. “I remember when we use to sing some of his songs to the girls. We learnt how to propose to a girl through his songs and the girls will fall for it,” he recalls. “I still have some of his tunes (alpies), they cost N$5 at the time,” Imbili remembers. “Let his soul rest in peace, will continue to listen to his music and legacy will definitely endure.”
Sledge died last week after a battle with liver cancer. Sledge’s When a Man Loves a Woman was his signature song. Cover Me, Warm and Tender love, You Really Got a Hold on Me, Out Left Field made him a long-time favourite. He is survived by his wife, Rosa Singleton Sledge, three sons, nine daughters, 17 grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, family and friends. The singer was laid to rest on Tuesday in Baton Rouge (USA), were he spent much of his adult life.