Their music is dubbed Afro-pop or Afro-fusion, it is original and incredibly enjoyable to listen to. The style combines certain elements of traditional South African music with blues, jazz and a spoonful of indie rock.
Freshlyground was formed in Cape Town in 2002 and members hail from South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe and are a "Rainbow Nation" mix.
Lead vocalist is Zolani Mahola. She has a marvelous and extremely versatile singing voice, and listening to a range of the band's music, one can really appreciate the quirkiness and great humor in her performances.
Other members include Simon Attwell, who is a flautist and plays the mbira (also known as a thumb piano), saxophone and harmonica. The drummer is Peter Cohen and on lead guitar (steel-string acoustic guitar) we have Julio "Gugs" Sigauque. Bassist and backing vocalist is Josh Hawks. On the keyboard, and also a backing vocalist and percussionist, is Seredeal "Shaggy" Scheepers. Kyla-Rose Smith is a violinist and also a backing vocalist.
Freshlyground has received a couple of awards too. In 2005 the band was nominated for three South African Music Awards for their 2004 album, Nomvula. The writer particularly loves the track "I'd Like" from this album.
Listening to this album and comparing it to the latest album, "Take me to the Dance", featured in the video at the top of this article, will give a strong idea of the versatility of these artists.
Although they did not win that year, in 2008 the Recording Industry of South Africa awarded the band the coveted Best Duo or Group SAMA. That same year, their 2008 album, "Ma'Cheri" won the prestigious Album of the Year SAMA along with the Best Adult Contemporary Album: English, and Best Engineer.
Freshlyground became the first South African musical act to receive honors at the 2006 MTV Europe Music Awards in Copenhagen. In 2008, the Channel O Music Video Awards gave the band the "Best Africa, Southern" award for their single "Pot Belly" which can be enjoyed in the video below:
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 (This Time for Africa)". The song was based on "Zangalewa" (view from 7:31), a popular Makossa African soldiers' song by Golden Sounds. "Zangalewa" was a hit single in Colombia in 1987. Shakira and Freshlyground performed "Waka Waka" at the pre-tournament kick-off concert in Soweto on 10 June 2010.
The latest album, "Take me to the Dance" is getting mixed reviews on YouTube. While some comment that the music is too commercial, others respond with comments like "I'm enjoying the experimentation, a velvet darkness nodding to the world's lust for darker electronic." Another says, "Its awesome, You Guys Rock!!!" Experimentation is always good, and their varied style will then possibly attract even more followers.
Their music can be bought from their store, previewed on Soundcloud and more videos can be seen on their YouTube channel.
South African residents can buy the latest album at CNA, Musica, Look & Listen, Top CD, Music Moods, Super CD and selected Pick n Pay stores nationwide.
Cover of the new album "Take me to the Dance":