Indie rocker Jessi Zazu, who played an integral role in the genre’s resurgence in Nashville, has died after a battle with cervical cancer.
She was 28.
Zazu the frontwoman for the popular and versatile rock group Those Darlins died on Tuesday at the Centennial hospital in Nashville with friends and family by her side, The Tennessean reported.
The singer and songwriter, whose full legal name was Jessi Zazu Wariner, learned of her diagnosis when she was 26, shortly after Those Darlins went on a break in early 2016.
She publicly revealed her diagnosis that December. In a video she shared to YouTube that month, Zazu shaved her head while wearing a shirt that read “Ain’t Afraid,” which referred to a song she had written five years earlier but had since taken on a new meaning.
“I just want everyone to that know I am a fighter, and I will never give up,” she said at the end of the video.
She detailed her cancer battle in an in-depth feature with the Nashville Scene magazine in June, explaining that the disease started in her cervix, making it difficult to detect, before it began to spread.
Zazu was still a teenager when she founded Those Darlins with Nikki Kvarnes and Kelley Anderson in 2006. The group released three albums each notably different from the other covering genres like classic rock, garage rock and their own twist on country.
They earned a tremendous following within Nashville due to their unique style, and played a large part in establishing that Nashville music wasn’t just about traditional country music.
Zazu’s former bandmate, Linwood Regensburg, commemorated Zazu as a wonderful personality who was always a pleasure to be around.
“She maintained a sense of humor and a commanding presence up until and through her final moments,” Regensburg told the Tennessean. “She was in the company of those who cared deeply about her and who she cared deeply about.”