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Jessi Zazu, frontwoman for indie rock favorites Those Darlins

Corbis via Getty Images / Photo by Michael Hurcomb

Jessi Zazu, frontwoman for indie rock favorites Those Darlins

Jessi Zazu, musician who was the frontwoman for the popular indie band Those Darlins, has died of cancer at the age of 28, according to multiple news sources. 

Zazu died surrounded by family, friends and fellow musicians who lined the waiting room inside Centennial Hospital's intensive care unit in Nashville, according to The Tennessean. 

Zazu co-founded the band as a teenager in 2006 after meeting Nikki Kvarnes and Kelley Anderson at the Southern Girls Rock & Roll Camp in Tennessee. 

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. The tour helped the band get national attention. 

The band’s self-titled debut came out in 2009 featuring a blend of alt-country, rock and rockablilly. Drummer Linwood Regensburg joined the band before their second album. Screws Get Loose was praised by critics including Robert Christgau of the Village Voice who said , "hooky, saucy, punky songwriting in a mood somewhere between Be Your Own Pet and The Donnas, only savvier." <br><br>

Those Darlins continued to tour with bands such as The Old 97’s and Best Coast. 

Kelley Anderson left the band in 2012, before the release of their third LP Blur the Line in 2013. The album was also lauded by many indie publications and critics. 

The band played their last show in March, 2016. Later that year, Zazu was diagnosed with cervical cancer. After her diagnosis, she released a statement. 

"This is typically what they would call a 'no cure scenario, but I refuse to believe that to be the case. I feel healthy, happy, hopeful, determined, positive, and full of sparks and nails. In a sense: 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." 

Zazu then focused on art, opening a show at the Julia Martin Gallery in Nashville. She designed t-shirts that said "Ain't Afraid," that raised over $50,000 for her medical bills. 

Her friend, Shelley Dubois, who wrote a Nashville Scene story that looked at Zazu's art and battle with cancer, paid her tribute. "She thought women deserve more respect than they get. That's why she was so open about her experience with cervical cancer. 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."

"Jessi helped her loved ones through her music and art and story. But she also helped strangers. Teenage girls everywhere pick up guitars after listening to her songs. Cancer patients she'll never know will be comforted by the art she made for the radiation room at Vanderbilt. She was so much bigger than herself. She'll continue to help so many people."

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

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