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South African Jazz legend Thandi Klaasen dies

2017-01-15 11:49
Thandi Klaasen
Thandi and Lorraine Klaasen (Photo: Gallo)

Cape Town - Nelson Mandela's favourite singer and legendary local Jazz icon, Thandi Klaasen, 86, has died.

The news was announced on Sunday morning on Twitter by Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa.

He tweeted; "We are saddened to learn that Jazz Legend Thandi Klaasen has passed on. Our thoughts are with her daughter Lorraine, her loved ones, & fans.

He added; "uMama Thandi Klaasen will be remembered for her indomitable spirit, who succeeded against all odds....

"…and her silky smooth voice which serenaded audiences the world over. How much richer we are having heard her sing.

"How much she touched our spirits and made us complete beings in a world in which things were falling apart."

Lost her battle with pancreatic cancer

Klaasen’s daughter, Lorraine, earlier this week revealed on her personal Facebook page that her mother was fighting pancreatic cancer.

She thanked friends and fans for all the support that she and the family have received at this tough time.

Her legendary career

According to sahistory.org.za Thandi Klaasen, the daughter of a shoemaker and a domestic worker, grew up in the historical Sophiatown.

As a teenager, Thandi was attacked with acid, which resulted in a permanent scars on her face. She spent almost an entire year in hospital recovering. She refused to let the incident get her down and went on to become both a local and international icon.

"She earned respect as a singer and dancer in various churches around Sophiatown. Her musical career started in the mid-1950s when she used to perform for ten shillings.

"She then started performing with groups such as the Gaieties and the Harlem Swingsters, but her career took off when she performed with Dolly Rathebe, Miriam Makeba, Dorothy Masuku and Sophie Mgcina," SA History reports.

In the 1960s she starred in the internationally acclaimed musical, King Kong, by composer Todd Matshikiza, reports SouthAfrica.net.

She has received numerous awards including The Woman of Distinction Award received in Canada (1999)  and more recently the Lifetime Achievement Award at the ceremony of 12th-MTN South African Music Awards.

Thandi ranks as a symbol that defines the golden age of music in South Africa.

WATCH: THANDI PERFORMS SOPHIATOWN

-TheJuice