Freshlyground formed in early 2002, and is made up of seven talented and diverse musicians from South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Fronted by the diminutive but dynamic Zolani Mahola, the band exudes a live performance energy that has been the bedrock of their success. The experienced rhythm section of Peter Cohen (drums) & Josh Hawks (bass) is complimented by guitarist Julio Sigauque, keyboardist Seredeal Scheepers, Simon Attwell (flute, mbira, sax and harmonica) and violinist Kyla Rose Smith. Although hailing from diverse backgrounds, between them the band’s members weave a musical magic that is highly infectious and undeniably groovy.
In 2003 Freshlyground launched their debut album, Jika Jika under their own Freeground Records label, the immediate success of which firmly cemented the band as one of South Africa’s most successful young acts.
Freshlyground released their second studio album Nomvula in July 2004. Nomvula was recorded and produced by JB Arthur and Sibusiso Victor Masondo. The album sparked interest from Sony BMG Africa, who signed the band and released Nomvula in September that year. Radio quickly picked up on the single ‘Doo Be Doo’ and the catchy song went on to become a crossover favorite amongst a diverse spread of stations and their listeners. ‘Doo Be Doo’ was the most played song in South Africa in 2005. The major success of ‘Doo Be Doo’ was followed by the singles ‘I’d Like’, ‘Zithande’, ‘Things Have Changed’ and the title track of the album Nomvula.
The album sold 300 000 units in South Africa alone- earning it multi-platinum status. The success and broad appeal of the band was celebrated in November 2006 when Freshlyground won the MTV Europe Award in the category Best African Act. The award placed the band firmly on the international music map and earned them further recognition on home soil as significant South African cultural exports.
fusion, African, folk
The success of Nomvula was followed by Ma Cheri - Freshlyground’s third studio album, released in September 2007. The album’s release was followed by a major South African tour attended by over 25 000 people across four cities. The tour was produced by Freshlyground and supported by Volkswagen South Africa. The tour successfully raised the performance and production standards of local touring, putting the band on par with international acts in terms of production scale and value. Ma Cheri has sold 80 000 units to date in South Africa and the single Pot Belly is another major crossover success, and is play listed on all South African radio stations.
Five years on Freshlyground are a still a sensation. In South Africa audiences of every race cram in to see them. Old people get up and dance. Hip black teenagers sing to their lyrics. White kids emulate their moves. The very presence of this band in South Africa is a promise for a harmonious future. But they don’t sit still for the picture.
Freshlyground are currently in studio working their fourth studio album due for release late 2009, as well as preparing for their 25th European tour in May, making the band one of a handful of South African acts to have a successful and sustainable career both internationally and at home. Expect them to draw crowds as they go. Bridge historical divides. Defy musical stereotypes. That’s what they’ve done all along. And it’s about time an Afro-pop band brings some of Africa’s magical music to the world.
Zolani Mahola - Lead Vocals
Josh Hawks - Bass Guitar, Vocals
Seredeal Scheepers - Keyboards, Percussion
Simon Attwell - Flute, Mbira, Harmonica, Saxophone
Julio Sigauque - Electric & Acoustic Guitar
Peter Cohen - Drums
· JIKA JIKA, released by Freeground Records, 2003
· NOMVULA, released by Freeground Records / Sony BMG, 2004
· MA CHERI, released by Freeground Records / Sony BMG, 2007
· LIVE DVD, released by Freeground Records / Sony BMG, 2008
· JIKA JIKA, re mastered and re mixed, released by Freeground Records and distributed by Sony BMG, 2008