Family, fans and friends came out in large numbers to celebrate and honour the life and legacy of gospel legend Deborah Fraser at a memorial service that was held at the House of Treasures Ministries in Joburg on Thursday, May 19.
Fraser passed away on Sunday, May 15 following a short illness. She was 56.
Industry giants Linah Ngcobo and her husband Ihashi Elimhlophe Ngcobo, Chicco Twala, Sipho Makhabane, Kholeka, Vicky Vilakazi and Jabu Hlongwane celebrated her memory.
“It is a day of celebration. We can’t postpone our day with the Lord,” said legendary singer and actress Ngcobo, as she paid tribute to her long time friend.
“This day of death cannot be stopped. We called each other sisters,” recalled Ngcobo.
Another speaker, the legendary Twala, also paid a moving tribute to Fraser, hailing her as a doyenne of gospel.
During his speech, Twala blasted the South African government for failing yet another musician.
“I never thought that a musician like Deborah Fraser who has contributed so much to this country could not get the support she deserves in government.
“I don’t want to criticise the government but the truth is i-support ayikho (there is no support).
“This morning, I spoke to the CEO of Universal Music… the same thing we did with Brenda Fassie, we ought to do with Deborah’s family… We raise R30 million rands for Bongani Fassie when Brenda passed away.
“To my fellow musicians, sis Deborah’s death must be a lesson to us, the importance of medical aid…Sis Deborah would be alive now if she had medical aid.
“For sis Deborah to go to Bara, it’s really a shame to all of us,” said Twala.
The family of the multi-award-winning star confirmed her untimely passing in a Facebook post on Sunday afternoon.
“It is with deep sadness to inform you of the passing of our beloved mother, sister, aunt and friend, and Gospel musician, Dr Deborah Fraser following a short illness,” read the statement.
“She passed today (Sunday 15.05.2022) after midday, in the presence of her family and friends.”
Her untimely passing has been met with an outpouring of emotional tributes by fans and industry colleagues.
In a statement shared with IOL Lifestyle, Dlamini, CEO of Universal Music Group Sub Saharan Africa described Fraser’s passing as a “serious blow to gospel music and the industry”.
“We are saddened by the untimely death of Dr Deborah Fraser. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and fans of the hugely talented musician. May they be comforted in this most difficult hour of grief and loss,” said Dlamini.
“We have also lost a dedicated and diligent artist who always put her fans and God first in all she did. She respected her craft and valued the role she played in spreading the Gospel. We are now left with her gift of music to draw comfort and strength from. Rest in peace Dr Fraser, you will never be forgotten,” he added.
Fraser was born in KwaMashu and moved to Joburg to pursue her music career in 1985 as a session musician.
She started off as a backing vocalist for South African legends including Hugh Masekela, Caiphus Semenya, Letta Mbulu, Jonas Gwangwa, Yvonne Chaka Chaka and Brenda Fassie.
She also lent her voice to international stars Jon Secada, Cyndi Lauper, Sound of Blackness and Bebe Winans when they toured South Africa.
She released her debut solo album Abanye Bayombona in 2000.
She was scheduled to release a new album late in the year. She finished recording in March.
Fraser’s funeral service will be held on Saturday, May 21, at 9am, as follows: The church ceremony will be held at The Station Venue in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. This will be followed by a graveside ceremony at Lala Kahle Cemetery in Hillcrest. TimesLive