Tuesday, September 24, 2002

The Swish Guide to South African Music - Part 8
"Weekend Special" by Brenda and the Big Dudes - 1986 [download the mp3]

Brenda Fassie burst onto the scene with this song in 1986. Her huge success and fame led her to be nicknamed "Madonna". But after a few more bubblegum hits, things started to go very wrong.

The 1990s were a rough time for Brenda. She was often too drunk to perform. She developed a major coke habit. In 1990 she was sued for fraud. In 1992 she was convicted of assaulting a photographer. The following year, penniless, she lost her house and her flat. Then came the lurid tabloid headlines screaming that Brenda was a lesbian. In 1994, her female lover died of a drug overdose in bed next to her, in a seedy Hillbrow hotel.

This tragedy inspired Brenda to clean up her act, and she returned with a mission, and a new, more powerful voice, scoring many massive hits. She was very quick to latch onto the wave of pro-Mandela sentiments, releasing the smash hit "Black President". She is incredibly popular even today, featuring in Time magazine, and spearheading the Kwaito phenomenon [a uniquely South African mix of disco, R&B, ragga, hip-hop and house].

"Weekend Special" is Brenda before the drugs, before the fame, before the tragedy - and its lyrics are pertinent to me and Marcus, especially during tube-strike-week:
You don't come around to see me in the week
You don't have the chance to call me on the phone
But Friday night, I know, I must be ready for you
Just waiting for you
I'm your weekend, weekend special
Let me know what you think of this. Buy South African CDs online at oneworld.co.za.

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