THIS Sunday, Mango Groove will headline the Old Mutual Music at the Lake concert in the Botanic Gardens. An 11-piece outfit, the Afro-pop band comprises lead vocalist Claire Johnston with Sipho Bhengu, Beulah Hashe, Banza Kgasoane, Alan Lazar, George Lewis, John Leyden, Marilyn Nokwe, Mduduzi Magwaza, Phumzile Ntuli and Gavin Stevens.

When Tonight interviewed Johnston, she spoke about the band’s forthcoming performance at Music at the Lake: “We always love performing in Durban and the Botanic Gardens is such a beautiful venue. This is our third time at the gardens in as many years.”

For Johnston, performing is probably her favourite part of the music game. She laughed: “That’s what the industry is really all about – the ‘hurry up and wait’ bit isn’t as much fun.”

Mango Groove has also received immense attention and appreciation from their fans worldwide. Describing the experience of performing overseas, Johnston said: “Mango Groove’s music goes down pretty well in different countries, despite being so distinctively South African, so it’s fun taking our music abroad. I recall a show in Bordeaux, France, where we had to perform Special Star three times, they loved it so much. It’s a great experience.

“Big festivals with other bands are always fun. My favourite gig was probably the inauguration of Nelson Mandela in 1994 – huge crowd at the Union Buildings, satellite-linked around the world and just a sense of a huge and very special occasion,” she explained.

Johnston said the highlight of the band’s career has been that they have reached all South Africans with their music: “I find that very special. In terms of the biggest challenge we have faced, well, Mango Groove has been going since the mid 1980s, so we’ve had a few deaths over the years… losing my voice for a whole year was also pretty scary. The music industry is a risky one, so I’m proud we have had such a lovely, long journey.”

Fans of Mango Groove can expect a lot more from the band. According to Johnston, they have some big plans they are working on: “But nothing I can divulge yet. All I will say is it involves more than music.”

Opening for Mango Groove on the day will be the reggae band from Mandini (in northern KZN), The Mediators.

• Tickets cost R120 at or R130 at the gate on the day. Children age eight to 12 pay R50 and under-eights enter free. Drinks, cooler boxes and picnic baskets welcome. Gates open at 1pm. For more information, visit


Five triple tickets are up for grabs to see Mango Groove at the Music at the Lake concert in the Botanic Gardens. To stand a chance of winning, SMS “MANGO DN” to 33963. SMSes cost R1.50.