JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – South African gospel singer Deborah Fraser died on Sunday at the age of 56.
The cause of death was not disclosed, with a family spokesperson saying her death followed a “short illness.” She was known to have diabetes.
Fraser released her first album ‘Abanye Bayombona’ in 2000 – which remains one of her most loved works.
“It is with deep sadness [that we] inform you of the passing of our beloved mother, sister, aunt and friend, and gospel musician, Deborah Fraser, following a short illness. She passed on today [Sunday] after midday, in the presence of her family and friends,” said Nontando Mafisa, for the family.
Fraser leaves behind two children.
Fraser, whose career spanned more than 30 years, worked with legendary artists such as Hugh Masekela, Jonas Gwangwa, Lucky Dube and Brenda Fassie.
South Africa’s ruling African National Congress said in a statement: “Her hit-song ‘Mina Ngohlala Nginje’ became our electioneering anthem and still enjoys air play during our events.
“We dip our revolutionary banner in honour of this great daughter of the soil.”
South Africa’s Department of Sport, Arts and Culture described her as a “legend for sacred music”.
“She was recently honoured with a Doctor of Philosophy in Sacred Music by the Christian leadership Academy. The department extends our sincerest condolences to her family, friends, colleagues and fans all over the world,” it said in a statement.
Fraser has been unwell for more than a year after falling ill while going to a gig in Klerksdorp in the North West in February last year.
Last month, she told fans that she was unable to walk adding: “I need prayers.”
She revealed that she had diabetes and had been diagnosed with meningitis while admitted in hospital last year.
Fellow gospel star Rebecca Malope said: “It’s a big loss. We just lost a legend. Her music was soothing and comforted the hearts of so many people.
“We have lost one of the greatest talents in South Africa.”