Tombstone for Brenda at last
ULS communication director Seipei Mashugane said the artistes family asked them to purchase the tombstone and sponsor its unveiling ceremony. It will be unveiled at Langa Cemetery in Cape Town on Saturday, June 10. The firm will also establish a Brenda Fassie foundation or charity organisation which will be used to develop and rehabilitate youths, orphans, abused children, drug abusers, people living with HIV and empower the disadvantaged communities of Kwa-Langa. The remains of Fassie, who died in 2004, have been lying in a grave without a tombstone for the past two years. To honour the former singing superstar, the firm will also set up a Brenda Fassie Museum to showcase her music. Scripts and diaries will also be established by the firm. Mashugane declined to disclose the cost of the tombstone but said: “We have only spent in the region of R40 000 for this event.” Brenda Nokuzola Fassie was born in 1964 in Langa, a township near Cape Town. She was named after the American country singer Brenda Lee. The daughter of a pianist, Brenda would follow her mother when she went singing at various venues. As a result, Brenda, at the age of five, had tourists paying to hear her sing. Her first band was called the Tiny Tots. When she was about 16 years old, renowned producer Koloi Lebona came from Johannesburg to visit the Fassie’s Langa home after a number of Cape Town musicians had told him about Brenda. Lebona confirmed their high regard for the young Brenda, saying that her voice was very mature for her age and was “the voice for the future”. Brenda went to live with Lebona’s family in Soweto, where she was supposed to finish school before beginning a music career. But when one of the vocalists of the singing trio, Joy, went on maternity leave, Brenda filled in for her. After her contract with Joy expired she made an appearance on the Blondie and Papa road show before forming her popular group, Brenda and the Big Dudes. Her first recording was made in 1983 with the hit single “Weekend Special”, which became the fastest-selling record at the time. The song enjoyed great international popularity, and Brenda and the Big Dudes toured the United States, Britain, Europe, Australia and Brazil. Throughout the decade Brenda also established herself as a great solo pop star. In the late 80s she began working with producer Sello “Chicco” Twala, a partnership that proved to be one of the most successful in the South African music business. (Additional reporting Swazi Observer).