Published on September 13th, 2017 | by Nature Humphries0
Those Darlin’s Vocalist Jessi Zazu Passes Away at 28 Years Old
When I stumbled into my first Those Darlins show at Proud Larry’s after a night shift on The Square in 2009, I knew I was witnessing something special. Where had this music, this energy been all my life? I felt they were telling my story through their brazen, honky-tonk performance, and I was hooked.
Over the years, I continued to follow the band’s progress over two more record releases and a few missed local shows (one in Memphis during an ice storm that I didn’t dare travel to). I listened to their music—sometimes nonstop—always wondering why they never gained the appreciation they deserved here in Oxford. When they announced the band’s breakup and a farewell tour in 2016, I quickly made plans to catch a show in Atlanta.
Jessi’s style was captivating, not only on stage but on canvas. After she went public about her illness, I noticed a distinct surge in her visual art that expressed so much of her struggle and pain. But not fear. Always a fighter, always passionate, and always an inspiration to me, Jessi was a creative powerhouse.
Reading the news of her passing today, I felt a profound sense of loss. I was rooting for her recovery, as I’m sure thousands of her fans, friends, and family were. Her friend, NPR’s Ann Powers wrote: “Her slogan was ‘Ain’t Afraid’—and she wasn’t, because there was no darkness that her brilliance couldn’t cut through, or at least make light enough to live in. The fiery particle that was the gift she gave us will never burn out.”
The Local Voice articles on Those Darlins:
“Blur the Line Blends Those Darlins’ Punk Vintage Sounds” by Nature Humphries, September 5, 2013.
“Those Darlins are Live at Proud Larrys’ Thursday September 5, 2013” by Liam Clements, September 3, 2013
“Those Darlins live at Proud Larrys’” by Allie Trotter, January 20, 2011
“Those Darlins Heat Oxford” by Nature Humphries, April 5, 2010
Read the full NPR obituary here.
Photographs by Newt Rayburn – © September 5, 2013.