Jonathan Butler was born 10 October 1961. He was born and raised in Athlone, Cape Town, South Africa. During the Apartheid era Butler started singing and playing acoustic guitar as a child. The Focal point of many of his records have been Racial segregation and poverty during Apartheid. His first single was the first by a black artist played by white radio stations in the racially segregated South Africa and he earned a Sarie Award (SA's equivelent to a Grammy Award in the USA) for it.
He began touring at the age of seven and was later signed up to perform on a string of hit recordings, turning him into a local teen idol.
Butler found the inspiration and encouragement to start expressing himself as a composer and songwriter in 1978 when he joined Cape Town's best known jazz/rock outfit, Pacific Express.
In the early 1980s Butler was signed to Jive Records and he moved to the United Kingdom, where he lived for seventeen years. His international breakthrough came in 1987 when his hit single, "Lies" which reached number 27 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart received a Grammy nomination.