13 years ago, the African music industry was left poorer by the passing on of Brenda Nozolla Fassie, popularly known to her fans as “MaBrrr”. Born in Langa township near Capetown in 1964, Fassie would have turned 53 this year. The daughter of a pianist she began singing  at a very young age.

Brenda is undoubtedly one of the finest voices the world of song has ever heard, and she surely ranks among the most popular artists in South Africa’s music history.

Fassie started her musical career in the early 1980s, and as a teenager she was part of various musical acts. She made her first recording in 1983 with the hit single “Weekend Special”. Through the years Brenda went on to work with various South African and #African artists on successful musical

Brenda was a critic of the apartheid regime and she dedicated her life through her music to fighting poverty rampant in townships, inequality, and injustice.

In 1999 MaBrrr received a Kora award for the best female artist and she also received various awards from the South African Music Awards for her musical accomplishments (inaugural 1995, and 1999 Best Female Award), and remarkable contribution to the South African music industry. Brenda was voted 17th in the Top 100 Great South Africans.

Today we remember the music icon by sharing our five best songs.

  1. Vulindlela

This song which won an award for South African Music Award for Best Song of the Decade in 2014 and South African Music Award for Song of the Year was an anthem in many parts of Southern Africa particularly at weddings owing to the chorus “Clear the way / My baby boy is getting married today”.

2. Weekend Special

This could as well have been branded the Friday song, it was popular across several radio stations especially on weekends. It was probably one of the most frequently requested songs for the weekend. It was sang by Brenda & The Big Dudes (Blondie and Pappa Makhene) and is believed to have played a big role in making her a star.

3. Memeza

This was also the name of the album that had hit songs like Vulindlela. A more soul full song seemingly telling the mother how much screaming cannot help her, those with guns and spears have found her.

4. Thola Amadlozi

Released in 2000 from the album Amadlozi the song looks at how things bad are for this person who needs the ancestors to be consulted, this way maybe things can be better for them.

5. Mama I’m Sorry

From the album, Myekeleni, this is one of Brenda’s songs that could bring tears to a listener. This is a song from a child promising their mother that she will not weep again, the child promises not to hurt her again.