The steirischer herbst curtain-raiser, the big opening party at Schauspielhaus on 24 October, also marks the start of the Enactments of the Self project. Brenda Fassie, "South Africa's Kwaito Queen", eccentric diva and media personality, will be giving her first concert in Austria. At the age of five years Fassie was already earning money by singing for tourists. As a teen she got on the charts with the single "Weekend Special", which received international air play. But her first pop songs - mainly in English - were musically unremarkable compared to her new style, when Fassie entered a new phase of her career in the 90ies. She was called the Queen of Kwaito, a pulsating pop style that exploded out of the townships in the early '90s and that Fassie quickly adopted. Kwaito (slang for "these guys are hot") fuses slowed American house and hip-hop, British garage and Jamaican reggae, held together by laid-back bass lines and percussion from traditional African chants. Like hip-hop, kwaito has become a cultural movement that incorporates lifestyle and fashion. Fassie's 1998 album, „Memeza“ (Shout), was the first South African recording to go platinum on its first day of release. It has sold more than half a million units. Her latest album, „Amadlozi“ (Ancestors), has sold more than 300,000 units. Brenda Fassie is without doubt one of the dominant icons of contemporary South African popular music. From about twenty years ago, when she broke into the musical scene in the early eighties with "Weekend Special", she has continued to evoke strong reactions. Whether she is adored or disliked, she is always there to react to. It is in reacting to her that we discover we are actually reacting to ourselves. We are compelled to confront in ourselves the implications of the ups and downs of her life: marriage and divorce; drugs; homosexuality; and healing. Stages of her life are reflected in her songs with great candour.
(Abstract from Njabulo S. Ndebele: "Thinking of Brenda", previously published in Chimurenga Vol 1, August 2001)
Born in Langa, Cape Town, in 1964. Inspired by her pianist mother she was early interested in music and singing. At the age of 14 she had already moved to Johannesburg to start her career as a singer. She joined several groups, like Joy, Blondie and Papa, then the Big Dudes in quick succession. That was not long before Fassie was recording her first solo debut, 'Weekend Special' in 1986. Soon, the song was a hit even in Britain. After years of trouble, concerning drug-addiction and homosexuality, in 1997 she started recording what was to be her comeback album, 'Memeza'. Her latest album "Amadlozi" has sold more than 300,000 units.