Wednesday, September 13, 2017
– Jessi Zazu, singer of Those Darlins, a country and rock band, passed away on Tuesday at 28 of cervical cancer.
Zazu died surrounded by family, friends and fellow musicians who lined the waiting room inside Centennial Hospital's intensive care unit. Zazu, who was born Jessi Zazu Wariner, but went by her first name and band name, went public about her illness and posted a picture of herself with a shaved head, wearing a t-shirt that said "No fear.
"Yesterday I said goodbye to my best friend, long time partner in crime and hero, Jessi Zazu Wariner," Regensburg said. "She maintained a sense of humor and a commanding presence up until and through her final moments. She was in the company of those who cared deeply about her and who she cared deeply about."
"Shout-out to your contagious spirit that inspired all who crossed it. Shout-out to the creative dynamo who continued to flourish even against insurmountable odds. Shout-out to all the little triumphs over the last 16 months. Shout-out to the ridiculous van rides and the fights and to the fact that we never turned our backs on one another over the last decade. Shout-out to the dreams we made and the ones left to come. And shout-out to all of you who have supported her until the end."
Zazu joined joined Nikki Kvarnes and Kelley Anderson to form Those Darlins in 2008. Linwood Regensburg become the fourth official member soon after. The band launched its own label, Oh Wow Dang, with the help of their manager John Turner and Nashville's Thirty Tigers.
The band's first EP, "Wild One," came out that same year followed by a self-titled debut LP the following year. They went onto record two more albums, "Screws Get Loose" (2011) and "Blur The Line" (2013), along with several EPs and singles.
The band exhibited a rough sounding country sound, which veered more towards rock over the year. Those Darlins toured across the U.S. numerous times.
Those Darlins went on official hiatus in late 2015 and in early 2016, just weeks after finishing the band's farewell tour, Zazu was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Since her diagnosis she continued to work on music alongside Regensburg.
Throughout her career, she was actively involved in social justice. For over a decade, she also worked with the Southern Girls Rock and Roll Camp, which she attended first as a camper. This past year, Zazu and the camp set up an "Ain't Afraid Scholarship" that went to all campers that applied.
"Attending these camps as a young person really gave me the tools I needed to blossom creatively in safe and encouraging environments. After attending camp for 4 years and volunteering for the last 11 years, it's something near and dear to my heart...Every year I meet more and more young kids who are so thoughtful, caring, considerate, aware and full of so much enthusiasm for the future...(Rock Camp) really changes their lives to have an outlet to express themselves and learn about how to navigate a world such as the one we live in."
Zazu also focused on her art and was included in a show this past June at the Julia Martin Gallery where her work as well as her mother Kathy Wariner's were displayed. She also contributed work to Vanderbilt's Cancer Center. Darling said, "I wanted it to be something that was inspiring to people because I looked around in the waiting rooms, and I could see there were a lot of people who looked like they were having a hard time. It's not always about being able to land a punch; it's being able to take a punch. Not just that, but take a break and have your team come in and fix yourself back up."
She also designed the book jacket and illustrations for music critic and NPR correspondent Ann Powers' recent book "Good Booty."
To cover her medical bills, Zazu eventually set up a YouCaring page to help defray the costs. She documented shaving her head and also designed t-shirts that said, "Ain't Afraid" in stark red letters. Sales from the shirts helped raise more than $50,000 toward her medical bills.
Zazu is survived by her mother Kathy Wariner, her father David Wariner and her brothers Emmett Wariner and Oakley Wariner.
A memorial fund is being set up for a public memorial.