Zolani Mahola. Picture: Supplied
Zolani Mahola announced on Thursday she's leaving Freshlyground - the finale of a 17-year-old marriage that took her and the group to legendary heights. 

Just days before the announcement at a press conference in Johannesburg, the lead singer spoke in an exclusive interview about going in a new direction in which she would be devoting more time to public and motivational speaking and performing to a different beat with her own music.

"At the end of the year I'll be taking my leave of Freshlyground and focusing on my solo work as well as being involved in public speaking - motivational and for corporates," she said.

Her name has been inextricably linked to the internationally acclaimed Freshlyground. Through their unifying music the group captured the heart of the nation and during the 2010 Fifa World Cup they claimed massive global recognition, collaborating with Shakira when they recorded the official song for this flagship event, performing to more than a billion people worldwide.

Mahola says she will definitely be demonstrating her magic in bridging social, racial and language divides through her music when she picks up the mic in her new role.

She has already presented audiences with a new body of work in earlier concerts this year and she says, "My own stuff has completely different influences. When you're part of a collective it's a collaboration and now this is uniquely my voice - the audience will hear a different voice..." 

Now she said, she'll be coming out as an instrumentalist and playing the guitar. "There'll be folk music and I'm planning on drawing on different influences and traditions like American folk and South African folk," she said.