Zolani Mahola

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Zolani Mahola
Mahola performing in Cape Town in 2019
Background information
Born (1981-07-19) 19 July 1981 (age 38)[1]
Bhisho, South Africa
OriginCape Town, South Africa
Occupation(s)Singer-songwriter, actress
InstrumentsVoice, Guitar
Years active2002–present
LabelsFreeground Records
Sony BMG Africa
Associated actsFreshlyground

Zolani Mahola (born 19 July 1981) is a South African singer, actress and transformational speaker. She has been the lead singer of the internationally acclaimed South African music group Freshlyground since 2002. On 15 August 2019, Mahola officially announced the launch of her solo career as a musician, storyteller and public speaker. [2][3]


Mahola was born in the city of Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa. She grew up near East London in Bhisho, and attended Trinity High School (which later amalgamated into St Dominic's Priory School).

She worked as receptionist at Makro during weekends and school holidays. She grew up on Ntshekisa Street, a long and busy street in New Brighton, a township on the outskirts of Port Elizabeth. She stayed with her dad and younger sister between 1999 and 2001.[4] In 2011, Zolani and Freshlyground gave a free concert on Ntshekisa Street as part of their 10th birthday tour.[5]

After studying drama at the University of Cape Town,[6] she was cast in the lead role in the television drama Tsha-Tsha, which aired on SABC 1.[7] Mahola voiced the character of Zoë in the animated feature film, Zambezia (2012), and also recorded the song "Get Up" for the original motion picture soundtrack.[8]

Music career[edit]

Mahola and six other musicians formed Freshlyground in Cape Town in 2002.[9]

After Freshlyground published their second album, Nomvula, in 2004, The Sunday Times described Mahola as one of South Africa's best and most inspiring young singers.[10]

She traveled to Cape Town, Durban and Pretoria with English pop singer Robbie Williams in 2006, with Freshlyground performing as Williams' supporting act.[11]

She sang on The Parlotones' third studio album, Stardust Galaxies (2009).

At the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Mahola, with Freshlyground and Shakira, performed "Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)" in the opening and closing ceremonies. "Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)" was the official song of FIFA World Cup in 2010.[12]

At the Glamour Women of the Year Awards 2011, held on 25 July in Johannesburg, Mahola was among eight women honoured by the South African division of Glamour. Glamour declared both her and her bandmate Kyla-Rose Smith "The Icons" of South African women in 2011.[13] Mahola opened up in 2018 about starting a Solo project that would be independent of Labels and major sponsors[14]

On 15 August 2019, Mahola officially announced the launch of her solo career as a musician, storyteller and transformational speaker. Her first solo release, "The One Who Sings" will be launched in November 2019.


  1. ^ Thompson, Sharon (15 May 2007). "Zolani Mahola: the face of fresh". Eastern Cape Madiba Action. Retrieved 17 August 2009.
  2. ^ Thakurdin, Karishma (20 May 2015). "Zolani Mahola on losing weight : 'I feel amazing'". Channel24. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  3. ^ MONCHO-MARIPANE, KGOMOTSO (22 August 2017). "Freshlyground's Zolani Mahola in New SA Musical "Calling Me Home"". AfroMag. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  4. ^ Snaparazzi Gallery Archived 20 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Freshlyground. "Freshlyground South Africa 2011 Gig Guide". Retrieved 27 November 2011.
  6. ^ "Zolani Mahola | TVSA". www.tvsa.co.za. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  7. ^ "Zolani Mahola | TVSA". www.tvsa.co.za. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  8. ^ Zambezia (2011) |a National Film and Video Foundation Archived 20 April 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Germany, Süddeutsche de GmbH, Munich. "News & Schlagzeilen auf Süddeutsche.de". Süddeutsche.de. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  10. ^ Zolani Mahola of Freshlyground - Times LIVE
  11. ^ "E-Paper - Aboangebote - Der Tagesspiegel". www.tagesspiegel.de. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  12. ^ FIFA.com (5 May 2010). "Shakira and Freshlyground sing Official FIFA World Cup™ song". FIFA.com. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  13. ^ Groger, Jill (28 July 2011). "Glamour women". The New Age. TNA Media. Archived from the original on 23 March 2012. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  14. ^ "I've finally decided to start my 1st solo project - Zolani Mahola, Freshlyground". 702. Retrieved 27 March 2019.

External links[edit]