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The seven piece outfit, Freshlyground, led by singer-songwriter, Zolani Mahola, seem to have perfected the art of making good music. Formed in 2001 in Cape Town, this proudly South African Afro-fusion band blends traditional African music with elements of jazz and indie rock and is now internationally acclaimed.
Their second album, Nomvula (2004), is named after Zolani’s mother, who passed away when she was young. ‘Nomvula’, the title track, is one that evokes a raw emotion and you find yourself being transported to a pensive time in her life. The song relates the story of a father raising his three daughters after his wife dies.
The album earned multi-platinum status with ‘Doo Be Doo’ becoming a major success and the most played song of that year. It was followed by the singles ‘I’d Like’, ‘Zithande’ and ‘Things Have Changed’.
The extremely versatile and distinct singing voice of the lead singer captures the audience’s soul from the moment she steps out there and takes hold of the microphone. Zolani also plays a huge role in the band’s live and energetic performances. She is a short curvy lady that surprises you with the angelic tones that etched a part in developing the band’s sound.
It is also interesting to note the diversity of their audience. Freshlyground appeals to a wider variety of people and this is due to their diverse music backgrounds and cultures as band members. With their music they create tools to bridge historical divides and defy musical stereotypes. No other band seems to appeal to all races and ages.
Their subsequent album, Ma’Cherie, was also successful and the band received the “Best Africa, Southern” award for their single ‘Pot Belly’ in the Channel O Music Video Awards 2008. Freshlyground became the first South African musical act to receive honors at the 2006 MTV Europe Music Awards in Copenhagen.
The band co-starred in the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa and most people will surely remember the song by Colombian pop star Shakira and Freshlyground, titled ‘Waka Waka’.
Freshlyground has performed anlongside various artists such as Oliver Mtukudzi, Miriam Makeba and Shakira, making the band one of a handful of South African acts to have a successful and sustainable career both internationally and at home.
Listen to their albums here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGXit3XJAgE&list=PL21B79D1213C60F30