OUR archive tracks Brenda Fassie’s best and worst moments, from wearing a pair of gold-and-white pants with thigh-high slits to meet Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi, to waking up next to her dead girlfriend in a seedy hotel in Hillbrow.
RESEARCH: Text/archive: Tshepo Maloi and Paul Holden | Photos, video, audio: Nhlanhla Mthethwa
» CHILD STAR
Brenda rose quickly from childhood to stardom. Starting out as a determined young dreamer in Langa, Cape Town, she was discovered by independent producer Koloi Lebona, who brought her to White City, Soweto
» HIT MAKER
Key to Brenda Fassie’s big break was Melvyn Matthews, who wrote Weekend Special, the song that made her the first local act ever to make it to Billboard’s Top 100
» ONE TIME
Brenda Fassie was a true original. There was nobody else like her. As producer Koloi Lebona says: "In terms of uniqueness of voice, that fresh approach to her songs, there was no one like Brenda."
» BRENDA AND THE BIG MOODS
Flamboyant, emotional and generous to a fault, Brenda Fassie could also be cruel and imperious. Notoriously volatile and deeply sensitive, she wasn’t always in control of her complex personality
» CAUGHT IN THE GLARE
Brenda Fassie had a deeply ambiguous relationship with the media, sometimes brazenly wooing journalists and at other times beating them up or hurling abuse at them
» WAYS OF DYING
Brenda Fassie’s coma and death stirred up a frenzy of activity, with fans, friends and hangers-on singing hymns and prayers in an ongoing vigil of vain hope
» WHOSE NAME IS IT ANYWAY?
Fans, friends and media hounds alike christened Brenda Fassie with a wealth of catchy nicknames
» JOZI GIRL
Brenda Fassie liked to get around the city she lived in, inhabiting Joburg and its environs like a pair of tight-cut jeans
» BARBS AND SNIPES
Brenda Fassie may have had more fans than she had detractors, but her critics hit hard
» AFRICAN QUEEN
Although her keenest fans occupied home turf, Brenda Fassie’s music also enjoyed overwhelming popularity across the rest of the African continent