By Fred Mills
One of our favorite bands here at BLURT, of the last decade, has to be Nashville’s Those Darlins, and if you don’t recognize that name then you are clearly on the wrong website. Put simply—or, as we put it in a 2013 feature on the band—the group served up “tough, fully realized songs; muscular, rocking playing; smart arrangements; convincing singing—the whole package.”
So today brings the sad news that one of Those Darlins’ two frontwomen, Jessi Zazu, has passed away from cancer. The gifted, witty musician was only 28.
Zazu was born into a musical family (her uncle was country star Steve Wariner), telling us, in that 2013 interview, “I was born in Nashville, and grew up in Kentucky and Indiana, pretty much been in the south and rural areas my whole life. There’s always been music I my life. I grew up in a family of musicians. I always knew that it would be a path I’d go down. I was encouraged in my home to be creative and do what I wanted to do. My grandfather taught me how to play guitar. I started taking lessons from him when I was nine.”
It was a public battle with cancer, for sure. Zazu put together a teeshirt design reading “Ain’t Afraid” in order to raise both awareness and medical bill funds, and as Those Darlins had been one of Nashville’s most popular indie rock groups, the fanbase responded accordingly. A recent John Prine tribute concert in Nashville even wound up being a Zazu fundraiser—those Darlins had previously appeared on a Prine tribute album—when the organizers announced they were donating the proceeds to her medical fund. The band broke up about a year ago, and Zazu turned to her art; according to The Tennessean, she mounted a display in June at the Julia Martin Gallery that included works from her mother Kathy Wariner.
BLURT will have a tribute to Jessi shortly. In the meantime—rock: