Influential indie rocker Jessi Zazu dead at 28 after cervical cancer battle

Jessi Zazu, the vocalist for Those Darlins, died yesterday at the age of 28 due to cervical cancer. Those Darlins also featured Nikki Kvarnes and Kelley Anderson.

They released their first single “Wild One” in 2008 and were asked by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys to open for him on his solo tour. Drummer Linwood Regensburg joined the band before their second album.

Zazu was diagnosed with cervical cancer in the spring of 2016 following several doctor’s visits after she noticed irregular bleeding and other unusual symptoms that began in February 2015, according to the Nashville Scene.

“This is typically what they would call a ‘no cure scenario, but I refuse to believe that to be the case”.

In her own words: “There’s a tumor growing on my body, I don’t know what lays in store, but I ain’t afraid anymore”. “Yes, I guess I am a mystic mind after all”.

Following the break-up, Zazu concentrated on art.

Zazu, whose full name was Jessi Zazu Wariner, was public and candid about her illness, sitting for a long interview with the Nashville Scene in the months before her death and continuing to make visual art about her struggles with the disease.

“I knew there was going to be a response, it was just so much more grand than I thought it was going to be”, she said in June. The original diagnosis was cervical cancer caused by papillomavirus, or HPV, which then metastasized. “She wanted other women to know that the weren’t alone, that they should listen to their bodies and speak up for themselves without shame if they knew something was wrong”.

If Jessi has touched your life with her music, her social justice work or her awesome heart, please consider donating.

Zazu had set up a YouCaring page to help with her medical costs. Teenage girls everywhere pick up guitars after listening to her songs. Cancer did not win when she showed up to peacefully protest with those at Nashville’s Women’s March – with signs she made, because of course – nor did it win when she showed up at She’s A Rebel, an evening of music celebrating the girl groups she loved, and sang her heart out. As a songwriter, she grew up in front of her loving audience’s eyes: Her early Those Darlins songs are sass explosions pierced through with shards of insight, while later ones reveal a woman digging into herself, facing her own vulnerabilities aided by an increasingly sophisticated feminist consciousness.

At the time Zazu had this to say about the scholarship: “Attending these camps as a young person really gave me the tools I needed to blossom creatively in safe and encouraging environments”.

Zazu is survived by her mother Kathy Wariner, her father David Wariner, and her brothers Emmett Wariner and Oakley Wariner.

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