Zolani The One Who Sings + The Feminine Force
Former lead singer of the critically acclaimed pan-African supergroup Freshlyground, Zolani Mahola is The One Who Sings. The band was together for 17 years and produced 6 albums and most famously collaborated with Shakira on the song “Waka Waka” in 2010 and is known for uniting audiences across the world across boundaries of race, age or gender. In her work with Freshlyground, Mahola has shared and opened stages for greats such as Stevie Wonder, Hugh Masekela, Shakira, Johnny Clegg, BB King and many others.
In 2019 she officially announced the launch of her solo career as a musician, storyteller and public speaker. In her own words: “Our world is changing. The old stories have worn thin. We are telling new stories now. We are creating new realities: ones which inspire and give us true power.”
The beginning of 2020 saw her collaborate with Grammy Award-winning cellist Yo-Yo Ma and October 2020 saw her share a bill with legendary musician Dave Matthews. She also released the anthemic and patriotic song “Because We Are” with long-time collaborator Aron Ha’Levi. The song saw the feature of over 30 artists across the South African music scene, including legends and popular artists such as Yvonne Chaka Chaka, J Something, Karen Zoid, Amanda Black, Vusi Mahlasela, Arno Carstens, Francois Van Coke to name but a few.
Mahola won the prestigious Fleur Du Cap award as “Best Actress” for her 2019 self-written critically acclaimed one woman play based on her life entitled “The One Who Sings. November 2020 saw her stage the multimedia work “You Need To Say It” at the Baxter theatre in Cape Town. The show included elements from Mahola’s debut solo album entitled “Thetha Mama” which was released in November of 2021. The album won best produced album this August at the South African Music awards and The One Who Sings is currently working on a follow-up album and three upcoming film projects for release late 2023 and 2024 respectively.
The Feminine Force is a roving band of femme musicians led by the pint-sized powerhouse that is The One Who Sings AKA Zolani Mahola. The band is her womb-child after the end of a highly successful 17-year partnership with her previous outfit: the internationally acclaimed, multi-award winning pan-African supergroup Freshlyground. The Feminine Force is what you hear and feel when women – or those socialized as femme people – gather to sing together, to grieve together and to joyously celebrate the exhilarating heartbreak that is life. Stylistically and intrinsically non-binary, the music is at once uplifting, sacred, rocking and deeply rooted in the indigenous feminine force of our land eMzantsi.
The music is written by The One Who Sings and is expressed by the highly skilled and impassioned band in six part harmony. It is fueled by folk guitars and powerful traditional Xhosa instruments. The band includes queer African instrumentalist, percussionist, marimba maker, songwriter, and singer Sky Dladla. Cal Thompson is a highly accomplished bass player and pianist, music education pioneer and founder of the Mobile Music Academy. Genevieve Lee studied opera at UCT music college and a student of the Amazonian tribe Huni Kuin’s traditional medixine music. Another talented roving member of the collective is Ntombe Halam, a recent graduate at UCT Music College in African music. Chante Phillips is an acolyte of the great Mozambican drumming legend Frank Paco and fiercely leads the bands rhythm section.
Zolani Mahola is passionate about children and youth as well as the natural world and our undeniable connection to it. As such she is an ambassador for the Seachange Project which released the ground-breaking documentary “My Octopus Teacher”. The team which produced the Oscar award-winning film is currently working on a feature film on the artist based on her connection to the ocean. She sits on the board of Zip Zap Circus School which empowers children of all walks of life with essential life skills. She is an the ambassador for the Morris Isaacson Centre for Music in the Johannesburg township of Soweto where music education is used as a tool to foster self-belief whilst creating world-class classically trained musicians in the process. She has also recently taken on ambassadorship for the Earthchild Project – an NPO which uses yoga, mindfulness and connection to nature to nurture children from under-resourced communities.