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SOUTH African hit band Freshlyground experienced career highs at the weekend – performances at Harlem’s historic Apollo Theatre in New York, news of a top award and the start of a US tour to promote their new album. These special moments topped off an exciting week, which began with the news of lead singer Zolani Mahola’s pregnancy.
The group performed twice on Saturday at the Apollo Theatre as part of the Africa Now festival.
The Apollo became famous for launching the careers of artists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, The Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin and many more.
Mahola, who is to become a mother in August, told The Mercury on Sunday night that Freshlyground was on their fourth visit to the US.
“Performing at The Apollo was quite incredible. To walk on the same stage as so many greats – it was perhaps even a bit intimidating,” she said.
Of the pregnancy, she says it is a joyous part of her journey.
“Any time you have a baby is a blessing, but this feels so much cooler because myself and my partner decided to have a baby, so it was a considered thing.
“We're in a good relationship and in a good space in our lives. It feels so good to go into something having thought it [through],” the singer said in an interview with Times Live.
She also revealed that she will hold off from international touring commitments from May and has joked that she now has a “licence to eat”.
Mahola revealed the news on the eve of Freshlyground's five-city American tour and acceptance of the inaugural Next Generation award at the Shared Interest Annual Gala.
The event – a celebration of leaders who are seen to be making a difference in Southern Africa – will honour the band for their involvement in the fight against HIV/Aids in South Africa.
On Monday the group will receive an award from Shared Interest, a New York-based non-profit social investment fund at New York’s Gotham Hall.
Freshlyground’s fifth album, Take Me to the Dance, was released in America and Canada last week.
They will be touring the US until March 22 and are scheduled to perform at Durban’s North Beach on April 1.