Deborah garnered many accolades and sold over a million copies of her albums in a career spanning more than three-and-a-half decades.
She was born in KwaMashu, KwaZulu-Natal, and moved to Johannesburg to pursue her music career in 1986.
She provided backing vocals for some of SA's biggest musical icons, including Hugh Masekela, Caiphus Semenya, Letta Mbulu, Jonas Gwangwa, Yvonne Chaka Chaka and Brenda Fassie.
Internationally, she worked with Jon Secada, Cyndi Lauper, Sound of Blackness and Bebe Winans. She released her debut solo project Abanye Bayombona in 2000 and her last studio album, Oka Jehovah Akanqotshwa, in 2019.
She was set to release a new album this year after finishing recording in March.
About the same time as the album recording was wrapping up, the star fell ill on the way to a gig and was hospitalised.
“I was unconscious, even the artists that came there said I should be transported to hospital,” a wheelchair-bound Deborah told TshisaLIVE a few weeks ago.
Deborah was due to go to a rehabilitation centre for physiotherapy to help her get back on her feet.
“I still cannot walk. I think it's because I was in bed for a long time, but I don't know for sure. It's stressful to live a life you're not used to. I'm asking for love, I'm asking for prayers.”
Even after falling ill, the singer was still honouring bookings and said at the time she wanted to continue singing because her ailments did not affect her voice.
“I am performing still because there's nothing wrong with my voice or hands, except there's a headache that comes and goes. Plus, I cannot walk. Sometimes I wake up feeling as if I can't think properly, as if I'm losing my mind. Otherwise, I can sit on my wheelchair and sing.”