I honestly cannot express to you just how excited I am to bring you Freshlyground today. Not only is their music incredibly fun, but they represent the version of South Africa (and Africa as to a larger extent) that I have no doubt is very slowly emerging.
With Freshlyground, you have a diverse group of African musicians, who aren't putting aside their differences, but instead using those differences to draw people together. They each bring their own musical experiences and backgrounds to the table to create music that is very urban, modern and African in all it's diversity. The keyboard player and founder, Aron Turest-Swartz, is an Afrikaner who grew up in the Karoo, the vast semi-desert of the Western Cape. Lead singer Zolani Mahola hails from Eastern Cape and not only brings her Xhosa language to the groups lyrics, but also brings with a strong background in drama/theater which she uses to get the crowds up and dancing at each event. Simon Attwell (flute, sax and mbira) was brought up in Zimbabwe, and brings his love for traditional Shona beats to the table. The rhythm section, Josh Hawks and Peter Cohen, are seasoned veterans, who have played with various other South African groups. Jo'burg native Kyla-Rose Smith is the violinist in the group and played in various hip-hop and jazz bands. Her freedom to bust an African dance move along with Zolani on stage garners a lot of respect from black audiences. Finally, Julio Sigaque hails from Mozambique and moved to Cape Town to study jazz guitar and brings incredible skills to the group. Honestly, I would just love to kick back with this entire band!
In addition to Ma' Cheri, I also love Nomvula, a song that Zolani sings about being raised by a single dad. Pot Belly is also a super fun song with a music video about an interracial couple; Doo Bee Doo was a 2005 song that you would hear on any radio station you turned to for months and months; and no group would be complete without a ballad like I'd Like.
On a continent where there as so many factors keeping people apart (cultural, racial, tribal, etc), I'm so glad that groups like this exist and I think they are radically important for breaking down barriers.
Hope you all have a great weekend!