"The country has lost one of its internationally acclaimed and respected jazz icons in Ms Thandi Klaasen. Her passing is a tragic loss to the nation," Zuma said in a statement Klaasen contributed to the country not only as a musician but also a social and political activist who was always outspoken about socio-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." Klaasen earned several awards and honours, including the National Order of the Baobab bestowed on her for her excellent achievement in and contribution to music.
"We convey our deepest condolences to her family, relatives, and all in the arts and culture industry. May her soul rest in peace,” Zuma said. In a separate statement, the ANCWL said it had learned with deep sadness of Klaasen's death after a long illness.
"Imbokodo who broke the glass ceiling of [the] music industry which is characterised by [the] domination of males and became an icon in African Jazz. Her career as a singer and dancer began in the mid-1950s when the apartheid and patriarchal system were entrenched but that did not deter her from pursuing her dreams," the league said. '
In August 2013 Klaasen was among those who were honoured by Standard Bank with a lifetime achievement award. Other awards she received included the Woman of Distinction Award received in Canada in 1999 and a lifetime achievement award at the 2006 South African Music awards.
The ANCWL sent its deepest condolences to Klaasen's family, friends, and supporters.