Monday, May 10, 2004

POPOBIT: Brenda Fassie, South Africa's "girl with the golden voice", has died at the age of 39. Fassie was taken to hospital two weeks ago, after a heart attack had left her with brain damage.

First hitting the early 80s with the song Weekend Special, Fassie quickly became known as 'the Madonna of the Townships', kicking off a career that would eventually see her become a favourite of the new ANC government (she played the handover between Mandela and Mbeki) despite a reputation for a fierce temper and a prodigious drug habit. The early nineties saw her embroiled in a number of messy legal actions, including a 1992 conviction for assault. She resurrected her career - fourteen years after her first (and up until then only) hit - through a duet with Papa Wemba and, more notably, a post-rehab album. 1998's Memeza saw her secure one of the most extraordinary comebacks in music. The road wasn't totally clear for her - she still had run-ins with ex-boyfriends and girlfriends and she still managed to keep up a Ryderesque intake of drink and drugs.

Her family were reported as saying that she appeared to be responding to treatment following her hospitalisation, but it was a false hope. Brenda leaves a son, Bongani.

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