Passion Fruit was a Bubblegum pop/dance group from Germany. The group is best known for their 1999 hit single "The Rigga-Ding-Dong-Song". In April 2000, Passion Fruit released their debut album "Spanglish Love Affairs."
When the group was formed in early 1999, it consisted of four members: Manye "Blade" Thompson, Viola "Dawn" Schubbe, Carla "Pearl" Sinclair, and Mario "MC Steve" Tub. Due to the exit of MC Steve in October 1999 and tensions within the group, record company X-Cell Records decided not to continue with the project. Subsequently, the management team that created the group found a new line-up and a new record company and kept the name Passion Fruit to leverage the success of the first single. The new members of Passion Fruit were:
- Nathaly van het Ende (January 2, 1975 - November 24, 2001)
A background singer, dancer and much sought-after model, who was the second runner up in the 1995 Miss Holland pageant and appeared in many music videos.
- Maria Serrano (November 26, 1973 - November 24, 2001)
A trained nurse who was also a dancer, model and background singer for various artists.
- Debby (Deborah) St. Marteen (born 1973 in Delft)
A dancer and model who appeared in many music videos for Dutch and Belgian artists
Named after the tropical fruit that has a refreshing aroma and intense flavor, Passion Fruit burst into the local scene with the Top Ten dance-pop "The Rigga Ding Dong Song," in June 1999. “Wonderland”, “Sun Fun Baby” and “Bongo Man” followed in 2000 and 2001, all making the top 40 on the German singles chart
Passion Fruit's style is sweet and bouncy, with sugar coated lyrics and catchy rhythms, that reflect the characteristics of a passion fruit. Their lyrics are mainly in English, but occasionally some Spanish, German and Dutch is included.
A Tragic End
On November 24, 2001, the group was on board of the Crossair Flight 3597 from Berlin to Zurich. Tragically, the plane lost control and crashed into a wooded range of hills four kilometers (2.5 miles) short of the runway on approach towards Zurich International Airport, near the town of Bassersdorf. Maria Serrano-Serrano and Nathaly van het Ende died, along with La Bouche's vocalist Melanie Thornton, who was also on board of the plane. Debby St. Marteen survivied although she was seriously injured along with 8 other people.
In December 2001, Passion Fruit's management decided to donate all the proceeds from their single "I'm Dreaming Of...A Winter Wonderland" to the victims and survivors of the tragedy. No new formation of the band has been planned.
As of 2006, Debby continues to have ongoing treatments for her injuries from the crash. She occasionally posts messages on the official Passion Fruit website, usually each November around the anniversary of the plane crash to remember her beloved friends, Maria and Nathaly. She currently lives in Zoetermeer in the Netherlands. On December 5, 2006, to mark the fifth anniversary, she appeared in an interview on the ZDF television show "Hello Germany" which showed her visiting the site of the crash.