The youngest of nine children, Brenda Nokuzola Fassie was born on November 3, 1964, in Langa, Cape Town. She bears the name Brenda Lee after the American singer. When she was just two years old, her father passed away. With the assistance of her mother, a pianist, she quickly began performing for visitors in order to get money.
In 1981, at the age of sixteen, Hendrick “Koloi” Lebona paid her a visit. She consequently moved to Soweto, Johannesburg, from Cape Town in an attempt to pursue her singing career. After serving as a stand-in vocalist for a member of the vocal group Joy while she was on maternity leave, Fassie went on to become the lead vocalist for Brenda and the Big Dudes, a township music group. In 1985, a fellow musician from Big Dudes gave birth to her son, Bongani. In 1989, she wed Nhlanhla Mbambo; however, the two later separated in 1991. It was at this time that she developed a cocaine addiction, which negatively impacted her career.
Fassie was incredibly popular due to her vocal opinions, numerous trips to Johannesburg’s impoverished townships, and songs she wrote on her experiences there. She also opposed South Africa’s apartheid government through her music. She paid homage to Nelson Mandela, the first Black president of South Africa and political prisoner, with the release of the song “Black President” in 1990. Famed primarily for the songs “Weekend Special” and “Too Late for Mama,” Time magazine named Fassie “The Madonna of the Townships” in 2001.
She was found in a hotel in 1995, together with the body of Poppie Sihlahla, her girlfriend, who had apparently overdosed and died. After undergoing treatment, Fassie resumed her career. Nevertheless, she continued to struggle with drug abuse and visited drug treatment facilities over thirty times during her lifetime. She put out a number of solo albums starting in 1996, such as Now Is the Time (1996), Paparazzi (1997), Meleza (1998), and Nomakanjani? (1999). In South Africa, the majority of her albums achieved multi-platinum status; in 1998, Memeza emerged as the top-selling album in the country.
Brenda Fassie Profile
- Full Name: Brenda Nokuzola Fassie
- Date of Birth: November 3, 1964
- Age: 59 years
- Gender: Female
- Place of Birth: Langa, Cape Town, South Africa
- Nationality: South African
- Profession: Singer, Dancer, Songwriter, Activist
- Son: Bongani Fassie
Brenda Fassie Early Life & Education
November 3, 1964, was Brenda Nokuzola Fassie’s birthplace in Langa, Cape Town, South Africa. She was named after the well-known American singer Brenda Lee and was the youngest of her father’s nine children.
Brenda was raised by her pianist mother, who encouraged her love of music from an early age. To help maintain their family, her mother would frequently sing for visitors.
Growing up in the Cape Town township of Langa, Brenda was exposed to the problems and tragedies that her community endured.
Despite the difficulties, she turned to music for inspiration and comfort. Brenda began singing with her mother when she was five years old, and others soon noticed how talented she was. She started the Tiny Tots, a band she played for visitors.
Brenda Fassie Net Worth
During her lifetime, Brenda Fassie was one of South Africa’s most successful pop singers.
Although it is difficult to pinpoint her exact net worth, at the time of her death, it was thought to be in the neighborhood of $3 million.
Her financial success was partly attributed to her extraordinary talent and international recognition.
Brenda Fassie Career
When renowned producer Koloi Lebona met Brenda in Cape Town in 1981 and saw her extraordinary skill, Brenda’s career took off.
Brenda’s engaging stage presence and mature voice impressed Lebona, who extended an invitation for Brenda to move in with his family in Soweto.
As the lead vocalist of the township band Brenda and the Big Dudes, Brenda’s musical career really took off.
Brenda’s first record, the hit track “Weekend Special,” was released in 1983 and was immediately successful. She went on international tours in the US, Europe, Britain, Brazil, and Australia as a result of the song, which shot her to fame.
Brenda became a solo pop success over the years, putting out multiple albums that went multi-platinum in South Africa.
Brenda struggled with drug addiction, but her music was still loved by listeners. She opposed the apartheid government in South Africa and addressed social concerns using her platform.
Nelson Mandela, a political prisoner who went on to become the nation’s first Black President, was honored in one of her well-known songs, “Black President.”
Brenda Fassie Personal Life
The town would frequently hear rumors about Brenda Fassie’s private life. She gave birth to a boy named Bongani in 1985 with a bandmate from her band, the Big Dudes.
She later wed Nhlanla Mbambo in 1989, but their union was ruined by legal issues as a result of being sued for deception. August 1990 saw the couple’s divorce, which garnered a lot of media attention.
Brenda was well-known for her vibrant personality and free attitude throughout her entire life. She became a controversial figure because she was honest about her battles with drug addiction and her sexual orientation.
Brenda’s gift and love of music remained the center of her existence despite her difficulties.
Brenda Fassie Death
After collapsing at her Buccleuch, Gauteng, home early on April 26, 2004, Fassie was taken to a Sunninghill hospital. At first, the media was informed that she had gone into cardiac arrest, but subsequently, they learned that her asthma attack had caused her to go into a coma. According to the post-mortem report, Fassie’s coma was brought on by a cocaine overdose that she had taken the night before she collapsed. She lost consciousness and suffered from oxygen-related brain damage.
Thabo Mbeki, Winnie Mandela, and Nelson Mandela paid Fassie a visit at the hospital, and the South African newspapers included a front-page story about her condition. On May 9, 2004, she passed away in a hospital at the age of 39, losing consciousness as her life support systems were switched off. When she passed away, her son Bongani Fassie and her longtime partner were by her side.
Brenda Fassie Recognition
Five South African Music Awards were given to Fassie: Best Female Artist and Song of the Year (1999), Best-Selling Release of the Decade (2004, 2005), and Best Song of the Decade (2005, 2005). In addition, she received three Kora Awards: the Jury Special Award in 2001, the Most Promising Female Artist of Africa and Best Female Artist of Africa in 1996. In the Top 100 Great South Africans, she was ranked seventeenth.
The song “I’m So Sorry,” which is dedicated to her mother, was performed by her son Bongani “Bongz” Fassie on the soundtrack of the 2005 Academy Award–winning film Tsotsi. Angus Taylor created a life-size bronze sculpture of Fassie, which was placed outside Bassline, a Johannesburg music club, in March 2006.
Brenda Fassie Social Media
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Brenda Fassie Discography
- Ag Shame Lovey
- Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngabantu
- Too Late for Mama
- Black President
- I Am Not a Bad Girl
- Yo Baby
- Abantu Bayakhuluma
- Umuntu Uyashintsha
- Now Is the Time
- Thola Amadlozi
- Mina Nawe: Ngohlala Ngi Nje
- Gimme Some Volume
Who Is Brenda Fassie
Brenda Nokuzola Fassie was a South African singer, songwriter, dancer, and activist who lived from 3 November 1964 to 9 May 2004. Known to her devotees as MaBrrr, the “Queen of African Pop,” the “Madonna of The Townships,” or just The Black Madonna, she is adored by them all. Ironically, her Xhosa name, Nokuzola, means “quiet,” “calm,” or “peace.” Her audacious stage antics gained her a reputation for “outrageousness”.
What was the cause of Brenda Fassie death?
According to the post-mortem report, Fassie’s coma was brought on by a cocaine overdose that she had taken the night before she collapsed. She lost consciousness and suffered from oxygen-related brain damage.
How old was Brenda before she died?
On the morning of April 26, 2004, Brenda Fassie was found unconscious at her Buccleuch, Gauteng home. She was subsequently sent to a hospital in Sunninghill. She stayed at the hospital until May 9th, when she passed away at the age of 39.
How old was Brenda Fassie when she started singing?
Brenda, a pianist’s daughter, started singing at a very young age, her mother accompanying her, and by the time she was five years old, visitors were paying to hear her perform. By now she had formed her own band, the Tiny Tots.
Why did Brenda Fassie stop singing in English?
In contrast to her earlier bubble gum pop hits, the song referred to Mandela as “The People’s President” and emphasized the horrors of apartheid and the fight for freedom. Fassie began singing in Xhosa, Sotho, and Zulu after the apartheid government outlawed the song, announcing, “I’m glad to be an