‘The One Who Sings’: Freshly ground’s Zolani, where is she now?

Zolani Mahola is a versatile artist who is known for her talents as a singer, actress, storyteller, and inspirational speaker. She initially gained international recognition as the charismatic lead singer of the pan-African South African music sensation, Freshlyground, and has since moved on to other projects.Zolani Mahola’s humble beginnings started on Ntshekisa Street in New Brighton, a township on the outskirts of Port Elizabeth, which shaped her resilient spirit and passion for music.




Zolani Mahola then went on to attend Trinity High School, which later became known as St Dominic’s Priory School. In her high school years, she worked as a receptionist at Makro during weekends and holidays.

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Zolani Mahola’s artistic journey took a pivotal turn while she was pursuing a Theatre and Performance degree at the University of Cape Town. It was there that she landed the lead role in the television drama ‘Tsha-Tsha,’ which aired on SABC 1.

Zolani’s talents extended beyond her acting. She went on to voice the character of Zoë in the animated feature film ‘Zambezia’ (2012) and contributed to the song ‘Get Up’ for the original motion picture soundtrack.

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Zolani Mahola’s most iconic role came as the lead vocalist of Freshlyground, a musical group formed in Cape Town in 2002. With Freshlyground, she achieved worldwide acclaim, particularly following the release of their second album, ‘Nomvula,’ in 2004.

She was hailed as one of South Africa’s best and most inspiring young singers. Freshlyground’s journey was not only local but global. They shared stages with great artists like Robbie Williams and B.B. King.

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The group even graced Radio City Music Hall during the 46664 concert alongside legends such as Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin.

One of the highlights of her career came during the 2010 FIFA World Cup when Mahola and Freshlyground, alongside Shakira, performed ‘Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)’ in both the opening and closing ceremonies.

The song became the official anthem of the tournament, solidifying Zolani Mahola’s status as an international sensation.

On 15 August 2019, Zolani Mahola embarked on a new chapter in her artistic journey by officially launching her solo career as a musician, storyteller, and transformational speaker. The transition marked her evolution as an artist and allowed her to explore new dimensions of her creativity.
In January 2020, Zolani Mahola collaborated with the legendary cellist Yo-Yo Ma and other Capetonian musicians, including Xhosa music icon Madosini. They worked on a song called ‘Amphibious Soul.’

This collaboration was presented at the United Nations, showcasing her commitment to using her art for positive change.

She released her first solo single, ‘Remember Who You Are,’ in November 2020, and it served as an anthem for female empowerment through the ‘Give Her A Crown’ campaign, which addressed Gender-Based Violence in South Africa.