Minister Nathi Mthethwa pays tribute to the late Mama Thandi Klaasen

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15 Jan 2017

“We are saddened at the passing of our extraordinary jazz musician, Mama Thandi Klaasen. A Legend has left us. A great and mighty musical legend.

This loss marks the end of an era. Born and bred in Sophiatown, she kept alive its sounds and melodies and its rich cultural tradition. Her song “Sophiatown” masterfully and memorably describes the vibrancy of the place and of the times.

We shall remember her for her indomitable spirit, her enduring will to succeed against all odds, her beautiful and haunting voice that inspired generations of South Africans. This silky smooth voice also serenaded audiences the world over.

Her life gave us courage and her voice gave us strength.

We are so much richer having heard her sing and having known her. She touched our spirits and made us complete beings in a world in which things were falling apart. She withstood the test of time and she continued to sing with us in the age of democracy.

She represented us well on the international stage. During her time in exile, she sang with other legendary musicians from all over the world. 

Even in her later years, she was still feisty and vivacious, yet kind, powerful and strong,” said Minister Nathi Mthethwa. 

Chairperson of the Living Legends Legacy Programme, an initiative of the Department of Arts and Culture, Mr Welcome Msomi said that:

“On behalf of the Living Legends Legacy Project, It is a sad day for the legends, people of South Africa and the world to say goodbye to our legend, Sis Thandi Klaasen. She would want us to celebrate her journey in song and dance. RIP our Living Legend.”

She was the recipient of many awards, including a National Order. A few years ago when she accepted a Woman of Destiny Award, she said: “I am happy to be with people with such loving hearts. They can burn my face, but not my voice. My face is not Thandi Klaasen; I am Thandi Klaasen.”

The radiant splendour of her music will continue to attract new audiences in the time to come.

Our heartfelt condolences go to her daughter, Lorraine, the rest of her family, her fans and fellow musical giants all over the world.

For comments, call: Lisa Combrinck at 082 821 4886