Gaetano Buttigieg born on 17 January, 1923 at Ħamrun he is a singer and songwriter, known as Gejtano Kanta.
He was married to Ċensina nee’ Bonnici on 3 May 1953 and they had eleven children boys and girls Paul, Saviour know as (Silvio), Maria Franca know as (Franca), Joseph know as (Joe), Mari Anna (Mary Anne Zammit) (Singer and Presenter), Natalie, Maria Assumpta (Sonia) mother of two child singers Dorothy Bezzina and Dr. Gianluca Bezzina, Tania, Giovanni, and the twins Michael and Gaetano.
Considered as one of the pioneer of the song in Maltese, in the early 1950’s he used to write new lyrics in maltese to well known Italian melodies or pop songs of that time (mostly those participating in the San Remo Festival)
Most of the lyrics were autobiographical, or else regarded an aspect of the common daily life around him and around his wonderful family, always with a positive message.
At in the early 1960s, these songs began to be aired on the Rediffusion, at first interpreted by others and later on sung by Gaetano himself.
He Used to rite a new songs for every program of the series Nofs Siegħa ma’ Tony Agius which was presented by Charles Arrigo and later, after an audition at the Rediffusion studios. Major. Anthony Aquilina heard the pianist and concluded that he was good enough to take part in the programme Is-siegħa tal-Morda, a programme for the sick, by Mons Mikiel Azzopardi.
A 14-year-old pianist had an audition Edward P. Tagliaferro and became a regular in this programme, accompanying singers like Victoria Briffa, Josie Pace later know as (Ray Ritardo), The Four Links and Carmen Scerri - all of whom used to sing in Italian or English.
But an up and coming singer stood out from the rest, in that he sang in Maltese. At first, he took Italian or English popular songs and adapted Maltese lyrics to them (something, up till then, attempted only by a few - one recalls the famous makjetti of Armando Urso and Charles Clews in their programme Radju Muskettieri.
Later in the 60s Gaetano featured regularly in the Rediffusion’s children‘s programmes presented by iż-Żiju Salv Salvinu Tellus and in-Nannu Peppu, Ġużi Mallia and when the national TV station started he take part also, in the TV program Fuq Minn Tiġi Jkun Sultan.
Later on, he composed brand new songs in Maltese - an idea completely new to Malta. Menwhile , on his on initiative, Gaetano started to collect his works in booklet form and publish them under the title Gaetano Kanta, he used to publish a number of booklets continting the lyrics he wrote. In all he published 20 of them. Quite often he used also to be guest singer during programmes held held at parish halls Catholic Action activities and other venues all around the Maltese island and Edward P. Tagliaferro always accompanied Gaetano on the piano or the accordion.
One memorable event was when the director of the children's programme Iz-ziju Salv decided to hold a Christmas party for about 2,000 children on the aircraft carrier Ark Royal which was berthed in theGrand Harbour.
Gaetano also make the lyrics of Libsa Bil-Barnuż, which is the Maltese version of Jingle Bells, on some occasions he alsowrote the melody himself, as were the cases of L’Akbar Ħabib , and of the school hym for the Għaxaq Primary School.
Even as late in in the 1990’s he was still actively singing during Pizzi Pizzi Kanna a Radio and tv programmes mainly those presented by his daughter Maryanne Zammit, who also took the initiative to publish four books accompanied by cassettes in which Gaetano features both as a lyric writer and as a singer.
During the 2001 edition of the Festival L-Għanja tal-Poplu he was given an award of recognition for his contribution to the song in Maltese, And even the Marsa local council onorated him with (Ġieħ il-Marsa).
Above all, Gaetano was an exemplary Christian and he always put sound moral values and family above all else. The numerous concelebrants and a packed Church at his funeral are a witness to the respect and admiration that he enjoyed by all. I am sure his wife and children are convinced he is reaping the well-deserved reward reserved for faithful stewards.
He used to work as a clerk, first at the Drydocks and later with a private company, He also contested the General Elections on behalf of the Partit Nazzjonalista in the 1966 and 1971 elections. Buttigieg passed away on the 23rd Febuary 2004, aged 81.