South Africa's first black pop star Brenda Fassie died in Johannesburg on Sunday, May 9, 2004, after complications from an asthma attack. She was 39. She was named after U.S. country singer Brenda Lee, and began to perform at age 5. She was signed to a contract in her mid-teens and shot to fame in the early 1980s with the best-selling bubble-gum pop hit, Weekend Special as Brenda and the Dudes. It became the country's fastest selling record. In the late 1980s, she launched Too Late for Mama, a multi-platinum seller. In 1995, she was found collapsed in a hotel room next to the body of her lesbian lover, Poppie Sihlahla, who had died of an apparent drug overdose. Fassie went into rehab. In 1997 she recorded Memeza (Shout), South Africa's best-selling album of 1998. A string of best-selling albums followed, and for four consecutive years she won a South African Music Award.
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