Every Wednesday I will be introducing great kizomba artists from the PALOP community that usually don’t receive the recognition they deserve.
Kizomba music comes from all over the PALOP community, not just Angola. All mixes between zouk and Afro rhythms (not to be confused with Afro-house) are normally called kizomba, amongst PALOPS, regardless if the artists or bands are from Guiné-Bissau, Cabo-Verde, São Tomé and Prince, Mozambique or even the Congo (which is not a PALOP country).
BRENDA NOKUZOLA FASSIE
For many the mother of Afro-house, Brenda Nokuzola Fassie (3 November 1964 – 9 May 2004) was a South African anti-apartheid Afro-pop singer. Affectionately called MaBrrr by her fans, she was sometimes described as the “Queen of African Pop” or the “Madonna of The Townships” or simply as The Black Madonna. Her bold stage antics earned a reputation for “outrageousness.”
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 vocal group Joy (filling in for one of the members who was on maternity leave) 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. Around this time she became addicted to cocaine and her career suffered.
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 magazine in 2001.
In 1995, she was discovered in a hotel with the body of her female lover, Poppie Sihlahla, who had died of an apparent overdose. Fassie underwent rehabilitation and got her career back on track. However, she still had drug problems and returned to drug rehabilitation clinics about 30 times in her life.
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.
These are my personal picks and not necessarily the most popular mainstream songs. I hope my post inspires you to continue researching and exploring more on your own!
*PALOP – Portuguese-speaking African countries, also referred to as Lusophone Africa, consists of six African countries in which the Portuguese language is an official language: Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, São Tomé and Príncipe. Besides having a common language, the five former colonies of the Portuguese Empire share a strong “cultural identity, a similar system of governance and a long tradition of contacts and exchanges amongst themselves”. In 1992, the five Lusophone African countries formed an interstate organization called PALOP, a colloquial acronym that translates to African Countries of Portuguese Official Language (In Portuguese: Países Africanos de Língua Oficial Portuguesa). The PALOP countries signed official agreements with Portugal, the European Union and the United Nations, and they work together to promote the development of culture and education and the preservation of the Portuguese language. Together with Portugal and Brazil in 1996, the Portuguese-speaking African countries established the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (Portuguese: Comunidade dos Países de Língua Portuguesa, abbreviated to CPLP).