On My Radar

What's on 'Waka Waka' singer Zolani Mahola's playlist?

The lead singer of Freshlyground, who's just announced she's going solo, tells us what's on her cultural radar

22 September 2019 - 00:00
By Sanet Oberholzer
Zolani Mahola is going solo.
Image: Gallo Images/Oupa Bopape Zolani Mahola is going solo.

Zolani Mahola recently announced that after 17 years of performing with Freshlyground across the country and the globe, performing on stages alongside her musical idols and gracing the airwaves with her distinct voice, she will be going solo and taking a break as the lead singer of one of SA's most recognised bands.

Branding herself as "Zolani: the one who sings", she is set to release her first solo album at the end of the year.

We spoke to her to find out what's on her cultural radar.


I've been enjoying listening to Msaki's music and I often listen to classics like Ella Fitzgerald and Leonard Cohen.

US jazz artist Ella Fitzgerald circa 1974.
Image: GAB Archive/Redferns US jazz artist Ella Fitzgerald circa 1974.


I'm listening to about 20 podcasts at the moment. I'm listening to Abraham Hicks. I'm listening to Deepak Chopra's Infinite Potential.

There's a cool podcast called Consequence of Sound; they do music reviews, new releases and album of the week. They also talk about individual sounds and the artist.

This American Life is a classic and a good entry point into podcasts. I also love Death, Sex and Money. It's easy conversation and I love the way Anna Sale interviews without seeming to interview.

There's a fiction podcast I like called The Fitzroy Diaries and I also enjoy Song Exploder: they talk to artists about individual tracks and about how a song came about, the production of the song, the meaning of the song. I also love listening to Malcolm Gladwell's Revisionist History.


I don't have a TV but I do watch series. I enjoyed The Handmaid's Tale. It speaks about women's rights and ownership of women's bodies, the gaze on women's bodies, the policing of women's bodies. It's current. It's great.


Berlin is on my bucket list for my family and me to live at least for a time.

I'm curious to investigate our continent more. We are so damaged by apartheid, but even though the countries on the continent have been colonised and they have a similar frame of reference it wasn't as hardening as apartheid, so I'd like to experience living in a place like Ghana where I feel more at ease with being African and being black.


I'm a total foodie. Cape Town has incredible restaurants. One of my favourite restaurants that consistently does amazing food is a restaurant called Haiku in Burg Street. It's amazing. The Artivist in Braamfontein - their food is great. Those are two restaurants that I love.


The one that I love the most is the crème de la crème: Tony Roberts. He's like a universe all on his own and he's very inspirational to me - big time.