Brenda Fassie, the South African singer, has died at the age of 39. At some point in the 90s I heard of her and bought a CD. She had a great voice, and a difficult life.
Most people reading this have probably never have heard of her. For several reasons I tend to pay attention to South Africa and its culture. One reason: James lived there eight months in the 70s. Another: we know people from South Africa, such as Gary and Lisa who run Axis Gallery. I think I have always found it an amazing, inspiring story -- the end of apartheid without total civil war. I realize it's still far from perfect, but it is a more hopeful story than one of bombing people into "liberation."
I remember the 1990 parade for Nelson Mandela in lower Manhattan. At that time I was working on the 100th floor of 2 WTC for Lehman Brothers. Only one person in the whole office left to join me to watch the parade.