Jump to content


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Concert on 15 July 2011
Concert on 15 July 2011
Background information
OriginCape Town, South Africa
Years active2002–2019
Past members

Freshlyground was a band formed in Cape Town, South Africa in 2002. Freshlyground is best known for collaborating on the afrofusion and soca single "Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)" alongside Colombian singer Shakira, which received worldwide recognition. The music video featuring the group has achieved over 3.9 billion views on YouTube, which has resulted in it becoming one of the most-viewed videos on the platform.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7]

Early years[edit]

Freshlyground's members cite diverse multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-national backgrounds inclusive of South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Violinist and backing vocalist Kyla-Rose Smith was associated with afrofusion dancer Gregory Maqoma's dance company, The Vuyani Dance Theatre, where she performed at the Centre National de la Danse in Paris and co-wrote music while serving as the principal violinist. Smith pursued music studies throughout her schooling and focused on jazz during her time at university. At 15, Simon Attwell was a flautist in the Zimbabwe National Orchestra, later earning a scholarship to the Chethams School of Music in Manchester by age 17. Aron Turest-Swartz studied piano with Merton Barrow at the Jazz Workshop in Cape Town during his teenage years before transitioning to drums and percussion in Dublin in 1998. Lead singer Zolani Mahola had studied drama at the University of Cape Town and secured the lead role of Boniswa in the SABC1 television drama series Tsha Tsha. Drummer Peter Cohen formerly served as a drummer for Mango Groove. Mango Groove, which formed in 1984, is a South African musical ensemble comprising 11 members that blends pop with township music genres such as marabi. Josh Hawks, a backing vocalist and the bassist, was a prominent figure in the early '90s scene and played a pivotal role in the success of both The Streaks and the Zap Dragons.[1][8][9][10]


Jika Jika (2003)[edit]

Freshlyground released their debut album, Jika Jika, in early 2003. The commercial success of this album launched their career through their reputation as a vibrant South African band. The exposure from this album resulted in an invitation for the band to perform at both the Harare International Festival of the Arts and the Robben Island African Festival. This album was remixed by Keith Farquharson, remastered by Chris Athens and re-released in 2008.[11]

Nomvula (2004–2006)[edit]

In 2004, Freshlyground participated in the opening of Parliament of South Africa by performing before then-president Thabo Mbeki in an event organised as a celebration of 10 years of democracy in South Africa.

At the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA), Freshlyground performed with Zimbabwean musician Oliver Mtukudzi.

The band went on to perform alongside local legend Miriam Makeba, as well as Stanley Clarke and Femi Kuti, at the North Sea Jazz Festival, held during April in Cape Town. July also marked a break from the recording studio for the band, who had been working hard on their then unreleased album Nomvula. The band took this time to perform at the Villa Celimontana Festival in Rome, Italy.

Finally, in late 2004, Freshlyground released the album. The album initially only saw moderate success locally but ultimately went on to achieve double platinum status in South Africa. Its initial success was largely due to the catchy, feel-good lyrics of "Doo Be Doo", which enjoyed significant play on local radio. It was also covered in Indonesian by singer Gita Gutawa. Follow-up hits included "I'd Like" and the signature track "Nomvula", the former achieving unprecedented success on radio charts such as the 5FM Top 40, where it remained at No. 1 for several weeks.[12]

Ma'Cheri (2007)[edit]

The album Ma'Cheri was released on 3 September 2007. The album was again produced by JB Arthur and Victor Masondo, was engineered by David Langemann and was recorded in Cape Town. The first single, "Pot Belly", was followed "Fired Up" and "Desire".

Radio Africa (2010)[edit]

Freshlyground's album Radio Africa was released in May 2010. Promotion for the album included a release of a collaborative music video with the team behind ZANEWS, a South African satirical puppet news show, for a song about Robert Mugabe titled "Chicken to Change".[13] The release of the satirical song and video resulted in the group being banned from Zimbabwe for eight years.[14] In 2018, due to a change in the presidency, the band was no longer prohibited from entering the country and they were finally able to return to Zimbabwe to perform.

Cape Town Stadium Soccer Festival[edit]

On 23 January 2010, Freshlyground performed at the official inauguration game at the new Cape Town Stadium, where local Cape Town football clubs Ajax Cape Town and Santos played each other in a match decided on penalties.

2010 FIFA World Cup[edit]

A song by Colombian pop star Shakira and Freshlyground was the official song of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The song, titled "Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)", is based on "Zangalewa", a popular Makossa African soldiers' song by Golden Sounds. "Zangalewa" was a hit single in Colombia in 1987. Shakira and Freshlyground performed the song at the pre-tournament kick-off concert in Soweto on 10 June.

The following July, the band also took part in the official handing-over ceremony,[15] which took place in South Africa.

The Legend (2013)[edit]

Violinist Kyla-Rose Smith stated on the band's web site that "This album captures the emotion, the passion and the energy of our live performances. Our live concerts have always been at the bedrock of our popularity."[16]


The band's sound is primarily afro-fusion, a musical style that emerged in South Africa during the 1970s and 1980s that is mix of dance and music-genre styles.[17][18] The band's songs are multilingual and incorporate languages such as Xhosa, English, French and Zulu. Their music is frequently a fusion of genres incorporating an experimental wide range of crossovers including kwaito, folk, kwela, indie-rock, jazz and blues.[19][2][20][21][22][23]


In 2005, Freshlyground was nominated for three South African Music Awards for their 2004 album Nomvula. Although they won no SAMAs that year, in 2008 the Recording Industry of South Africa awarded them the coveted Best Duo or Group SAMA. In the same year, their 2007 album Ma' Cheri won the prestigious Album of the Year SAMA, as well as Best Adult Contemporary Album: English, and Best Engineer.

At the 2006 MTV Europe Music Awards in Copenhagen, Denmark, Freshlyground became the first South African musical act to receive honours from MTV, when they received the MTV Europe Music Award for Best African Act.

At the 2008 Channel O Music Video Awards the band received the "Best Africa, Southern" accolade for their single "Pot Belly".[24] In 2008 the band was awarded the South African Music Awards for their album "Macheri."[25]

Band members[edit]

  • Zolani Mahola (2002–2019) – lead vocals
  • Simon Attwell (2002–2019) – flute, saxophone, keyboard and band management
  • Peter Cohen (2002–2019) – drums
  • Julio "Gugs" Sigauque (2002–2019) – lead guitar (steel-string acoustic guitar)
  • Chris "Bakkies" Bakalanga (2016–2019) – lead guitar
  • Kyla-Rose Smith (2003–2016) – violin and backing vocals
  • Josh Hawks (2002–2019) – bass and backing vocals
  • Shaggy Scheepers (2008–2019) – percussion
  • Aron Turest-Swartz (2002–2009) – keyboard



  • Jika Jika (2003)
  • Nomvula (2004) - #ITA 96[26]
  • Ma' Cheri (2007)
  • Radio Africa (2010)
  • Take Me to the Dance (2012)
  • The Legend (2013)

As featured artists[edit]

  • "Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)" (2010 FIFA World Cup single by Shakira)


  1. ^ a b Timberg, Craig (30 December 2005). "A nation divided, but under a groove". NBC. Archived from the original on 23 April 2024. Retrieved 26 April 2024.
  2. ^ a b Howell, Rob (17 November 2015). "Freshlyground: South Africa's secret hit-making machine". CNN. Archived from the original on 16 November 2015. Retrieved 8 November 2023.
  3. ^ Mukotekwa, Leeroy (25 June 2023). "'Waka Waka' hitmakers – Where did Freshlyground disappear to?". The South African. Archived from the original on 18 January 2024. Retrieved 26 April 2024.
  4. ^ Flores, Griselda (30 November 2022). "Why Shakira Remains the Queen of World Cup Music". Billboard. Archived from the original on 3 January 2024. Retrieved 12 January 2024.
  5. ^ Coetzer, Diane (17 June 2010). "Shakira's World Cup Anthem Makes Global Impact". Billboard. Archived from the original on 22 April 2022. Retrieved 26 April 2024.
  6. ^ Roiz, Jessica (11 April 2024). "Shakira's 'Waka Waka (This Time For Africa)' Named the 'Catchiest' Soccer Song of All Time". Billboard. Archived from the original on 20 April 2024. Retrieved 26 April 2024.
  7. ^ Bolsmann, Chris; Alegi, Peter (2013). Africa's World Cup Critical Reflections on Play, Patriotism, Spectatorship, and Space. University of Michigan Press. p. 62. ISBN 9780472051946.
  8. ^ "Freshlyground launch debut". IOL. 4 September 2003. Archived from the original on 19 April 2024. Retrieved 26 April 2024.
  9. ^ Seibert, Brian (14 January 2020). "For This Choreographer, the Traditional Is Contemporary". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 20 April 2024. Retrieved 26 April 2024.
  10. ^ Motlogelwa, Tshireletso (11 July 2008). "That hidden Mango Groove in your Freshly Ground". Mmegi. Archived from the original on 17 April 2024. Retrieved 26 April 2024.
  11. ^ Jika Jika, 2008, album liner notes
  12. ^ "5FM Top 40 Chart". Archived from the original on 27 September 2006. Retrieved 1 March 2006.
  13. ^ "Freshlyground & ZANEWS - Chicken to Change (OFFICIAL RELEASE)". 1 September 2010. Retrieved 19 June 2024.
  14. ^ Maedza, Pedzisai (6 August 2019). "Third Time Lucky: Freshlyground and Cross-border Censorship in Zimbabwe". Popular Music and Society. 43 (5): 550–568. doi:10.1080/03007766.2019.1651561. ISSN 0300-7766. S2CID 201490624.
  15. ^ "News24 Article on 2010 handover". Archived from the original on 1 October 2007. Retrieved 1 July 2006.
  16. ^ "Album – African Cream | Freshlyground Store". Archived from the original on 14 May 2014. Retrieved 14 May 2014.
  17. ^ Reporter, Staff (16 October 1988). "In a dance state". Mail & Guardian. Archived from the original on 12 April 2024. Retrieved 26 April 2024.
  18. ^ Mojapelo, Max (2008). Beyond Memory Recording the History, Moments and Memories of South African Music (1st ed.). African Minds. p. 223. ISBN 9781920299286.
  19. ^ "African Music Library | Band Profile: Freshlyground". africanmusiclibrary.org. Retrieved 26 April 2024.
  20. ^ "Freshlyground returns to The Jazz Cafe in Camden". The South African. 18 June 2014. Archived from the original on 29 May 2023. Retrieved 26 April 2024.
  21. ^ "South African music". www.music.org.za. Retrieved 26 April 2024.
  22. ^ Apa, Safa; Wolmarans, Rian (2 November 2006). "Freshlyground win MTV Europe Music Award". Mail & Guardian. Archived from the original on 10 April 2024. Retrieved 26 April 2024.
  23. ^ Mkhwanazi, Katlego (28 May 2015). "Zolani Mahola on how to stay grounded and fresh". Mail & Guardian. Archived from the original on 23 January 2024. Retrieved 26 April 2024.
  24. ^ Museke: Channel O Music Video Awards 2008 winners Archived 12 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ "Freshlyground win 4 Samas". News24. 5 May 2008. Retrieved 20 January 2018.
  26. ^ "Nomvula by Freshlyground – Music Charts". acharts.co. Retrieved 14 August 2018.

External links[edit]