SADC mourns South Africa Jazz legend

Sharon Kavhu

HARARE-THE recent death of South African music legend Thandi Klaasen has robbed Africa of one of its notable jazz icons, who helped showcase the region’s rich cultural music diversity.

Klaasen died at the age of 86 over the weekend.

She was described by renowned Zimbabwean jazz musician, Friday Mbirimi of Mbare Trio, as a jazz legend who introduced South African music to the SADC region.

“Klaasen had a significant place in the old jazz fraternity, she was one of the ladies who took South African music to the rest of Southern Africa,” Mbirimi said.

“I first met her in 1987 during a jazz festival in Botswana where she had a magnificent performance. During my encounter with her, I realised that she was a marvellous lady who was soft spoken and humble.

“Her death is really a sad loss but I believe her music will not die easily because of its richness.  Already there are some young South African talents who are doing new versions of Klaasen’s songs.”

Tinashe Mukarati, a founding board member of the Jazz Community Zimbabwe, told The Southern Times that Klaasen’s music will live on to inspire jazz lovers for generations to come.

“It is sad for the jazz community in general and it is hard to find a replacement for her but her music will live on to inspire future generations,” he said.

South African President Jacob Zuma said Klaasen contributed to the country not only as a musician but also as a social and political activist, who was always outspoken about social-economic issues in the country.

“We have lost one of the leading pioneers of South African jazz music and promoters of the country’s cosmopolitan culture. She was a role model to many of our young and upcoming musicians and her legacy will live on for generations to come,” said President Zuma on Sunday.

South African Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa in his condolence message said: “We are saddened at the passing of our extraordinary jazz musician, Mama Thandi Klaasen. A legend has left us. A great and mighty musical legend.”

Lisa Combrinck from South Africa’s arts and culture department has described Klaasen’s death as a great loss to South Africa’s rich music culture.

“A great and mighty musical legend has left us. Her passing marks the end of an era.”

The South African Arts and Culture Department said the jazz legend passed away after a long illness.

Klaasen won numerous awards and has been recognised worldwide for her contribution to the arts and music. She is well known for her songs such as “Sophia Town”.

In 1999, she received the Women of Distinction Award in Canada and was awarded a lifetime achievement award at the 2006 South African Music Awards.

2006 South African Music Awards.

January 2017
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