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Jessi Zazu, the singer and founder of Nashville's rowdy, country-leaning indie band Those Darlins, died Tuesday at age 28 after a long fight with cancer. The band unveiled the news on its Facebook page.
Zazu, whose full name was Jessi Zazu Wariner, was public and candid about her illness, sitting for a long interview with the Nashville Scene in the months before her death and continuing to make visual art about her struggles with the disease.
“She maintained a sense of humor and a commanding presence up until and through her final moments," her bandmate Linwood Regensburg told the Tennessean. "She was in the company of those who cared deeply about her and who she cared deeply about."
The group was a fixture in the Nashville music scene, helping establish its reputation as a hotbed for rock acts outside the country music industry.
“Jessi was a force of nature -- the way she lived, the way she played... It was an honor to work with her and to know her,” wrote singer Margo Price.
Zazu was also widely admired for her activism in women’s health and outspokenness about her illness.
“I knew there was going to be a response, it was just so much more grand than I thought it was going to be,” she said in June. “Thousands of people reached out. They pitched in — they told me heartfelt stories. I felt like so many people had my back — like I had an army of people that were with me.”