Jessi Zazu, singer, guitarist, and co-founder of the band Those Darlins, passed away Tuesday at age 28. Zazu succumbed to cervical cancer.
Zazu entered the Nashville music scene as a teenager and formed Those Darlins in 2008. Those Darlins produced three albums during their time together and gained a local fan base that spread across the U.S. as the group began touring. The band's music captured a blend of country, punk, and rock.
“She maintained a sense of humor and a commanding presence up until and through her final moments. She was in the company of those who cared deeply about her and who she cared deeply about,” Linwood Regensburg, Those Darlins drummer, said in a statement.
Zazu learned she had cervical cancer weeks after the end of Those Darlins’ farewell tour in early 2016. In December 2016, Zazu documented shaving her head, during the video she donned a t-shirt with a bright red, bold “Ain’t Afraid” across it. Sales of the “Ain’t Afraid” shirt raised $50,000 to help cover Zazu’s medical bills.
Zazu worked for over a decade with Southern Girls Rock and Roll Camp. She helped create an “Ain’t Afraid” scholarship for young girls attending the camp. She also designed art for fellow Nashville musicians and for the book Good Booty by Ann Powers.
“Shout-out to your contagious spirit that inspired all who crossed it. Shout-out to the creative dynamo who continued to flourish even against insurmountable odds. Shout-out to all the little triumphs over the last 16 months,” Regensburg’s statement read. “Shout-out to the ridiculous van rides and the fights and to the fact that we never turned our backs on one another over the last decade. Shout-out to the dreams we made and the ones left to come. And shout-out to all of you who have supported her until the end.”
Top photo via "Jessi Zuzu Ain't Afraid of Cancer"
Bottom photo by Alysse Gafkjen via Grandstand Media
Kat Kothen-Hill is a BUST intern living in Brooklyn, NY.
Follow her on Twitter:@katkothenhill and on Instagram:kitkatkothenhill.