Gospel star Deborah Fraser was described as “Mother Teresa” and often opened her arms and home to all in need.

By Staff Reporter

Deborah Fraser’s music was the moonlight in the ominous night of life. She sang gospel music with passion, love and deep honesty, which nourished the souls and healed the wounded hearts of millions of fans. Her uniquely velvety voice made her music a reward to the hopeless. Her great hits, Imvuselelo, Dila Nabo Nkosi, Abanye Bayombona and Hamba Sathane serve as a testament that her music was meant to send light into the darkness of human hearts – such was the duty of Fraser. In an interview with sowetanlive.co.za, Cultural and Creative Industries of SA president, Joy Mbewana, said: “Deborah was a talented artist and we are not going to hear that velvet voice again. She had her own unique voice. She was kind-hearted and always willing to help people. “She was concerned that many artists were struggling and not making any income.”

Struggle with diabetes
Deborah, who was 56, had not been well for almost a week, according to those who were close to her. She is said to have been struggling with diabetes for years.
In February, she spent some time at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital. When she pulled through the severe diabetic attack, Deborah was confined to a wheelchair as she could no longer walk. She also had to cope with night blindness and at times, dizziness. Mbewana told sowetanlive.co.za: “After she came out of hospital early in April, the Silapha Wellness programme organised a psychologist for her and she told me she wanted to go with me to those sessions. She wanted to get better so she can start working. But things got worse last week when she suffered a stroke.
“I am hurt because she wanted to share her experience as a woman in the music industry with young artists.”

Early life
Deborah, who was born in Durban’s KwaMashu township in 1966, finished her Grade 12 at the famous Ohlange High School, founded by publisher and philosopher John Langalibalele Dube.
“I was taught by UN official Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka at school. Singer Tu Nokwe studied there and Thoko Didiza all attended my school, so I was destined to be on the list of great artists to change music,” she told Drum magazine.
She also told the publication that she had been making music for as long as she could remember.
“I grew up singing and came to Joburg in 1984 as a back-up vocalist for local and international artists such as Hugh Masekela, Jonas Gwangwa, Black Mambazo, Lucky Dube and Brenda Fassie, among others.”
After working as a backing vocalist, Deborah was signed by Universal Music. Her debut album, Abanye Bayombona, released in 2000, sold millions of copies. The rest, as the adage goes, is history.

Over the years, she was acknowledged and rewarded for her talent. She won the inaugural SABC Crown Gospel Music award in the Best Female Artist category, the South African Music Award for Best Gospel, Metro award for Best Gospel, and Kora for Best Gospel artist, among other awards.
In 2021 the singer was honoured with a Doctor of Philosophy in Sacred Music by the Christian Leadership Academy. Although the honour came as a complete surprise to her, she was ecstatic to be among African Gospel singers who had made a positive contribution to the genre and touching many lives.
She said, at the time: “I feel that my contribution to the music has not been in vain. I am humbled, it is a true honour.” Deborah went on to write: “My journey is not defined by the number of albums I have. It is not defined by the number of accolades I have received. It is a journey of thousands of miles experienced with so much love from my supporters and fans.
“It is defined through the millions of souls that I have reached and touched out there with this everlasting gift that God gave me. It is defined through lives I have saved and changed through the language of music. It has been a tedious journey with lows and highs.
“However, to God Almighty, Father, I wouldn’t have made it without your grace and love. You have always been the pillar of my strength through the darkest moments of my faith being shaken. Such an honour it is to be called Dr Deborah Fraser.” Deborah’s music has touched the souls of millions and will become a kind of spirit, that will never die.

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