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Langa-born pop singer, Brenda Fassie, came from humble beginnings but rose to become one of the most well-known South African pop singers of all time. She was born in 1964 and began her career at only five years old, singing for tourists who had come to visit the city of Cape Town.
She was discovered by producer Koloi Lebona, who said she had “the voice of the future”, when she was 16 years old. He brought her to Soweto to live with him and his family.
Fassie hadn’t finished high school before joining the singing trio, Joy. She soon formed her own group called Brenda and the Big Dudes, which was a huge success. Their first single, Weekend Special, became an international hit and catapulted Fassie to superstar status.
Fassie was known to have a drug and alcohol problem and went into rehab in 1995.
According to IOL, Fassie made a staggering R10 million in the 10 years between 1995 and 2004 – that equates to a million a year, which was a huge amount for that time. It was certainly a long way off from singing for tourists for a few bob.
Despite this huge success, it appears that Fassie could not shake her drug demons. Fassie sadly died on 9 May, 2004 of a reported cocaine overdose. She was only 39 years old.
In an interesting twist to the plot, her long-time producer, Chicco Twala, at the time said he believed Fassie would make much more money after her death than if she were alive.
A trust fund was set up to administer future earnings for her son and only child, Bongani Fassie.
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