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 complemented 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. The album sold 300 000 units in South Africa alone – earning it multi-platinum status. The first single ‘Doo Be Doo’ was the most played song in South Africa in 2005. 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.
The success of Nomvula was followed by that of 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. Ma Cheri sold multi platinum in South Africa and the single Pot Belly became another major crossover success. In 2009 Freshlyground did four sold out tours in Europe. They also toured for the first time in China, the United States of America and Canada, making the band one of a handful of South African acts to have a successful and sustainable career both internationally and at home.
In 2010 Freshlyground released the gold selling album ‘Radio Africa.’ The band’s forth studio album broadcast their unique sound, a sound that has turned the seven-piece into one of South Africa’s most treasured acts, to the rest of the continent and the world. While putting the finishing touches to ‘Radio Africa’ in New York in February of 2010 the band was selected to co-perform in the Official Song for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Entitled ‘ Waka Waka- This Time For Africa” the song was featured on “Listen Up: The Official 2010 FIFA World Cup Album™,”. To date ‘Waka Waka’ has sold well over 3 million singles and reached number #1 on several charts worldwide. The song is the most successful anthem in the history of the FIFA World Cup and has introduced Freshlyground and their music to a host of new fans across the globe.
In 2013 the band released Take me To The Dance in the United States on the Word of Mouth label, this was followed by a US tour which included a show at the prestigious New York venue, The Apollo. The release of the album was immediately followed by a rave review on the popular NPR show, All Things Considered and topped the US ITunes World Music chart. On a recent visit to South Africa in June 2013 during a speech at the University of Cape Town, President Barack Obama cited Freshlyground as an example of what South Africa has given the world.