Brenda Fassie Picture: AFP
Shockwaves went through SA 15 years ago when the woman who was affectionately known as the 'Madonna of the Townships', Brenda Fassie died in her sleep at the Sunninghill Hospital. 

Fassie is reported to have collapsed two weeks prior in her home, on April 26,  due to a cardiac arrest that a post-mortem report is believed to have said was caused by a cocaine overdose. She died at age 39, on May 9 2004. She was affectionately known as MaBrr. 

Her larger than life personality, her ability to create hit after hit and her killer fashion sense are just some of the reasons why Fassie is known in SA as an icon.  

In 1983, as part of Brenda and the Big Dudes, Fassie hit the big time with Weekend Special - which became the fastest selling record of the time and entered the Billboard Hot Black singles chart in 1986.

Brenda and the Big Dudes subsequently toured the United States, United Kingdom, Europe, Australia and Brazil.

Fassie teamed up with the record producer Sello "Chicco" Twala in the late 1980s. Twala is often credited for launching Fassie into superstardom with the album Too Late For Mama, which became a multi-platinum seller.

Fassie's popularity spread through most of Africa and she toured the United States in 2001, leading to hopes that she could become an international pop star.

Time magazine devoted three pages to Fassie in December 2001, headlined "The Madonna of the Townships". The article focused on her extraordinary talent, but also mentioned Fassie's drug use, bisexuality and diva-like tantrums.

At the time of her death, Fassie had released 19 albums, including compilation albums. 

Here are three of some of her most popular songs: 

Weekend Special- 1983 

Possibly one of Fassie's most recognizable songs, Weekend Special became at one point similar to an anthem, and a part of every party memory for most of us. Among some of the most notable samples of the song, are also American rapper and singer Azealia Banks, on the song Paradiso. 


For most of us, this is the ultimate wedding song. If you haven't been to a wedding where this song was played, you need to fix this ASAP. The song was also covered in 2016 by iconic SA group, Mango Groove. (P.s-it is superceded only by Wedding Day, another MaBrr classic) 

Black President- 1990

Taken from an album of the same name, this was MaBrr's sixth studio album. This album, unlinke a bulk of her earlier was the more political one, which openly celebrated, among other things the release of Nelson Mandela, the country's first black president in February of that year.