Friday Feature - Brenda "Mabrr" Fassie Biography


Brenda Fassie, born on 3 November 1964 and died 9 May 2004,was a South Africa anti-apartheid Afropop singer. Her bold stage antics earned a reputation for "outrageousness". Affectionately called Mabrr by her fans, she was sometimes described as the "Queen of African Pop".

Fassie was born in Langa, Cape Town, as the youngest of nine children. She was named after the American singer Brenda Lee. Her father died when she was two, and with the help of her mother, a pianist, she started earning money by singing for tourists. 

In 1981, at the age of 16, she left Cape Town for Soweto, Johannesburg, to seek her fortune as a singer. Fassie first joined the group Joy and later became the lead singer for a township music group called Brenda and the Big Dudes. She had a son, Bongani, in 1985 by a fellow Big Dudes musician. She married Nhlanhla Mbambo in 1989 but divorced in 1991. 

With very outspoken views and frequent visits to the poorer townships of Johannesburg, as well as songs about life in the townships, she enjoyed tremendous popularity. Known best for her songs "Weekend Special" and "Too Late for Mama", she was dubbed "The Madonna of the Townships" by Time in 2001.

From 1996 she released several solo albums, including Now Is the Time, Memeza (1997), and Nomakanjani?. Most of her albums became multi-platinum sellers in South Africa; Memeza was the best-selling album in South Africa in 1998.  


On the morning of 26 April 2004, Fassie collapsed at her home in Buccleuch, Gauteng, and was admitted into a hospital in Sunninghill. The press were told that she had suffered cardiac arrest. She stopped breathing and suffered brain damage from lack of oxygen.

 Fassie was visited in the hospital by Nelson Mandela, Winnie Mandela, and Thabo Mbeki, and her condition was front-page news in South African papers. She died aged 39 on 9 May 2004 in hospital without returning to consciousness after her life support machines were turned off. 

Her family, including her long term partner, were at her side when she died.


She was voted 17th in the Top 100 Great South Africans.

Her son Bongani 'Bongz' Fassie performed on the soundtrack to the 2005 Academy Award-winning movie Tsotsi. He dedicated his song "I'm So Sorry" to his mother.

In March 2006 a life-size bronze sculpture of Fassie by artist Angus Taylor was installed outside Bassline, a music venue in Johannesburg

 This autobiography was accessed on on 9 May 2014 :12:36pm.

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