YAOUNDE, Cameroon (AP) — Singer Anne Marie Nzie, known as the golden voice of Cameroon, has died. She was 84.
Nzie died Tuesday at a hospital where she was being treated since May 8 after succumbing to illness, the government said.
Cameroon's minister of arts and culture Narcisse Mouelle Kombi said Wednesday that Nzie was a musical heroine who will always be remembered for advocating for rights to freedom since Cameroon's independence from France in 1960.
"With her beautiful and attractive voice she stood courageously for Cameroon's independence from French colonial masters and advocated for the respect of human rights and dignities. At that time it needed courage," he said. "It is a great loss to Cameroon."
Nzie was known for her role in promoting Cameroon's Bikutsi music and for defending human rights.
She died just two weeks before a planned concert by Cameroonian musicians in her honor.
On Wednesday, Cameroonians gathered outside her Yaounde residence in mourning.
The singer was born in the Cameroonian town of Lolodof in 1932. Her father was a local guitarist. She began singing in a church choir at 8 and had her first songs played in night clubs when she was 24.
Her most cherished song in Cameroon, "Liberte," was considered rebellious at the time that Cameroon gained independence.
Singer Atte Bazore described Nzie as a mother who will always be missed.
"Each time we had difficulties, we rushed to her and she would readily advise us, urging us to love our country," Bazore said.