Award-winning gospel singer Deborah Fraser dies

FILE IMAGE: Deborah Fraser .
FILE IMAGE: Deborah Fraser .
Image: Oupa Bopape

Legendary gospel singer Deborah Fraser has died. Fraser, whose health took a turn for the worst last week when she suffered a stroke, died at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital on Sunday afternoon.

Cultural and Creative Industries of SA (CCIFSA) president Joy Mbewana confirmed to SowetanLIVE that Fraser was no more. Mbewana, who was among the people who assisted Fraser after she came out of hospital in April, said the singer died at about noon on Sunday.

The news of Fraser’s passing was further confirmed by a family friend who was at the hospital with the family when it happened. “Deborah has died. Her body is being moved as we speak to the mortuary of the hospital," the friend said.

Mbewana said: “After she came out of hospital early in April, Silapha Wellness programme organised a psychologist for her and she told me that she wanted to go with me to those sessions. She wanted to get better so that she can start working. But things got worse last week when she suffered a stroke. I am hurt because she wanted to share her experience as a woman in the music industry with young artists.”

She added: “Deborah was a talented artist and we are not going to hear that velvet voice again. She had her own unique voice. She was kind-hearted and always willing to help people. She was concerned that many artists were struggling and not making any income.”

According to her friends, Fraser, 56, had been critically ill for the past seven days. The singer who is known for hits like Abanye Bayombona and Hamba Sathane has been struggling with diabetes for years. In February this year, she spent weeks at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital. After she recovered from the serious diabetic attack she could not walk and had to be confined to a wheelchair, while she also struggled with night blindness or dizziness.

Fraser began her career in 1985 as a backing singer, and recorded her own album in 2000, titled Abanye Bayombona. The album has sold more than 1m copies. She has had a successful and illustrious music career. She won the SABC Crown Gospel Music Award in the Best Female Artist category.

She has released albums such as Udlalile Ngabantu, Giloria, Isililo, Umsamaria, Awusenasabelo, Umqhele, Thanksgiving and Uhambo.