Cheryl Kahla
Audience and Content Strategist
2 minute read
15 May 2022
3:57 pm

Acclaimed gospel singer Dr Deborah Fraser passed away on Sunday

Cheryl Kahla

Dr Fraser had been battling ill health for several weeks.

Deborah Fraser at the SA Fashion Week SS21 Digital Collections at the Mall of Africa on 30 April 2021 in Midrand, South Africa. Photo: Gallo Images/Oupa Bopape

Legendary gospel musician Dr Deborah Fraser passed away at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital on Sunday, 15 May, her family confirmed.

RIP Deborah Fraser

Dr Fraser, 56, was in the “presence of family and friends” when she died.

“It is with deep sadness to inform you of the passing of our beloved mother, sister, aunt and friend, and Gospel musician, Deborah Fraser following a short Illness”.

Her family asked for space to process her death.

Battling illness

Dr Fraser, who had released albums such as Giloria, Isililo, Umsamaria, Udlalile Ngabantu, Thanksgiving, Awusenasabelo, Umqhele, and Uhambo – suffered a stroke earlier this week.

She had also been battling diabetes and suffered a setback in February. Dr Fraser was confined to a wheelchair at the time.

In April, a TikTok video of her performing in a wheelchair was shared on social media and Dr Fraser confirmed she is unable to walk.

At the time, she said, “I am not acting, I can’t walk”.

Tumultuous marriage and abuse

Dr Fraser was married to Nigerian pastor Sockey Okeke of Macy Chapel but the couple parted ways in 2008.

Fraser shared she was subjected to physical abuse during her tumultuous marriage to Okeke. In an interview at the time, she said:

“I was suffering and I could not put myself and my children through it any longer. I had to make a decision, so I filed for divorce”.

Deborah Fraser’s legacy

After nearly two decades as a singer, the veteran musician released her solo album, Abanye Bayombona in 2000, and sold more than 1 million copies.

In May 2017, her album Uhambo was nominated for Best Traditional Faith Album, and she released the studio album OkaJehova Akanqotshwa in April 2019.

Dr Fraser also won the first SABC Crown Gospel Music for Best Female Artist, as well as a SAMA and Metro award for Best Gospel Album, and a Kora Award for Best Gospel artist.

She obtained a doctorate of Philosophy at the Trinity International Bible University in October 2021.