Diane Izzo

The news that singer-songwriter and former Chicagoan Diane Izzo had passed away Friday night in New Mexico wasn’t a shock—her battle with a fast-growing form of brain cancer had taken a dire turn—but that doesn’t make it any less sad. Izzo was only 43 years old, and she was working on a film project, Black and Gold, with husband Marco Zas and music photographer (and longtime Reader contributor) Jim Newberry. She’d also been speaking with Brad Wood, who produced her only full-length release, 1999’s One, about polishing up the two albums’ worth of tracks she’d recorded since.

Izzo was an exacting perfectionist who drove herself hard, and the results show in One, which is a brilliant album still, full of her strong personality. Greg Kot called it one of the best singer-songwriter albums ever to come out of Chicago, and I concur. Izzo and Zas had faced a great deal of adversity—he received a kidney transplant a few years ago—and all their friends say they did so with great wisdom and strength. I’m told that toward the end, Izzo was in a great deal of pain and ready for release. Now it’s the rest of us who will have to live with her loss, and a gap in the music world where her husky, fierce voice should have been.