Mthabisi Tshuma, Showbiz Reporter
THE late Deborah Fraser was a household name who, through her eloquent voice, made a name for herself across the African continent and the world at large.
Famed for her Abanye Bayombona album that she recorded in 2000, Mama Deborah died on Sunday at the age of 56. She will be laid to rest today in Hillcrest, KwaZulu-Natal.
Mama Deborah was loved by many locally as her music was adored by many. Besides her music, most who interacted with her enjoyed her aura of genuineness.
Some Zimbabweans were lucky to witness her live in action when she graced the Gwanda Gospel Music Festival in 2018. She shared the stage with Dr Tumi, Takesure Zamar, Mathias Mhere, Neyi Zimu, Omega, Thinah Zungu, Vocal Ex and ZCC Mbungo Stars Brass Band.
She proved that she was a Supernova on stage as her performance was top-notch. Deborah Fraser was unlike the old stereotype of gospel artistes in Africa as she was a goddess of her own accord.
Saturday Leisure this week caught up with some people who interacted with Deborah during her stint in Gwanda to find out more about the artiste.
Renowned journalist, Robert Mukondiwa who had a rare opportunity to interview Deborah said she was the most unusual person to interview.
“I pride myself in being a professional interviewer and hardly fraternise with my subjects. However, as I prepared to interview her, she evidently took a liking to me and overwhelmed me with a motherly avalanche. I couldn’t help but melt before her presence. She instead asked me questions and what ought to have been an interview became a warm conversation.
“There are incredibly few people with such an aura of genuineness to them as did Deborah Fraser,” said Mukondiwa.
He said during the interview, facilitator, Mthokozisi Dube was pressed for time to have other people interview her, but, “when he saw the mother and son reunion this had turned out to be, he let us chat to our heart’s content before the interview ended with a warm embrace and a photo opportunity.”
“It’s a picture I will treasure. In her, we’ve lost a light that shone in choking darkness, but her music will certainly continue to light up millions of lives after her own lifetime,” said Mukondiwa.
Organisers of the Gwanda Gospel Music Festival, Big Time Strategic Group through their representative Mthokozisi Dube said the death of Deborah Fraser was a big loss to every music lover.
Reflecting on the time they booked Deborah to perform in Gwanda, Dube, an avid follower of gospel music, said working with her was a walk in the park as she dedicated herself to the event.
“The journey was quite interesting taking note that this was someone who I followed from when I was young. It was really nice to connect with her on a personal level after I got her number from Takesure (Zamar).
“She was very warm and thus, we agreed to meet up for breakfast. When we met, it was like I’d known her for a long time because of her loving character. From there on, our relationship grew and I started calling her mother and she called me son,” recounted Dube.
Dube said Deborah Fraser graced the festival as per a request from the festival’s founder, Justice Maphosa. At that stage, the event was growing and attracting people from different parts of the region so, Maphosa felt Deborah fit in well. In no time, the deal was sealed and Deborah travelled to Gwanda from Johannesburg via Bulawayo on October 5, 2018.
Dube said what left him astonished was the down-to-earth character that Deborah Fraser possessed.
“I remember that there was one artiste who indicated that they wanted to be booked into a five-star hotel and I told them that Gwanda didn’t have such and they were not pleased with that. On the contrary, when I told Mama Deborah that there was no five-star hotel, she replied ‘anything will do my son’ and we booked her at a local lodge in Gwanda.
“The place wasn’t fancy for a celebrity and she insisted that it was fine as all she was here for was to minister the word of God to the people,” said Dube.
He said the calmness that Mama Deborah had, showed that patience is a good mentality for people who mingle with others on a daily basis.
“I remember there were delays on her performing slot and she was unfazed as she was her jovial self all the way up to her performance. We had booked her for 45 minutes, but she went on to awe fans for over two hours as she connected with the audience.
“As a people’s person, she even went on to take pictures with fans who were screaming all throughout her set. The following day, she attended the church service at Brethren in Christ Church in Gwanda and she was chilled like an ordinary person, not a celebrity. Because of this, many didn’t believe it was her.”
Even after the event, Dube said he continued talking with the star as they had created a mother and son relationship.
He said her death was a huge loss as her character was unmatched.
“Her death is really a massive loss for us. Besides being a gospel music heavyweight, Mama Deborah was such a good human being with exceptional human qualities. The biggest thing that I picked from her was the love she had for people and her fans. She had time for people and truly treasured the support her fans gave her over the years.
“The music industry has been dealt a major blow. Go well mama,” said Dube. – @mthabisi_mthire
Article Source: The Chronicle