'We have lost a great musician'

THIRTY-FIVE-YEAR-OLD Gugulethu songbird Labella Dani has died.

The first memorial service will be held tomorrow at 1pm at the Barnyard Theatre in Cresta Mall, Johannesburg. The second one, also tomorrow, will be held at the J Zwane Presbyterian Church in Gugulethu's Zone Two at 4.30pm.

Dani shot to fame in 1996 after forming the La Fancy duo with Fancy Galada. Together they released an album entitled Jazzino, produced by award-winning producer and artist Joe Nina.

A performer at Johannesburg's Women in Arts Festival, Dani released Still Lonely, described as a jazzy R&B album, in 2001.

She received a Sama nomination in 2002 for Best English Contemporary album and Best R&B album.

The songstress sang in English, isiXhosa, North Sotho and South Sotho. She also appeared in Cape Town's Sound of the City concerts, sharing a bill with big names like Freshlyground.

In 2005 she released an album under Selaelo Selota's C-Lota Records jazz label. Entitled Child of the Soil, the album was described by jazz fundis as "a move towards forging a more old-school Afro-pop-Safro jazz sound".

Before her untimely death this week, some even said that Dani was set to become the next Judith Sephuma or Sibongile Khumalo.

Selota told Sowetan: "We have lost a great artist. It is very sad for me because I tried to highlight her plight to the nation, and I don't think she got enough recognition.''

Selota said Dani's first record label had just dropped her, "though she had great talent". He said he had been disappointed when the country did not welcome her as someone forging ahead with the music of Miriam Makeba.