“Popular Afropop band Freshlyground have had their visas to perform in Zimbabwe revoked. This, after their Robert Mugabe spoof video for Chicken to Change, a collaboration with the ZA News team, upset the delicate constitution of the Zimbabwean ruling party. This effectively bans them from performing in the country for the foreseeable future,” according to Lisa Van Wyk’s Sept. 15th article for the Mail & Gardian Online, “What Music Is Supposed To Do”.
From Whirled Peas Café Radio’s first show on June 1st this summer, Freshlyground has been in heavy rotation on the playlist. The initial excuse for playing them was the World Cup when I dedicated the month of June to African music. I had already “discovered” the charms of Freshlyground, when I realized that they were included in Shakira’s Waka Waka Official World Cup video. The World Cup song I favor is the free download, I Am an African.
Doo Be Doo got them notice in South Africa seven years ago when they were an up and coming band. It has a feel good vibe and focuses on the dream of a world that could be. Craftsmanship and quality are not subverted to serve the political message…and yet they still manage to have some infectious fun. This is precisely what I strive for on the Whirled Peas Café Radio. Without the elements of whimsy, art and humor, the “good fight” loses energy and vibrancy. This doesn’t mean that the message is diluted, just that it is easier to actually hear and, thereby, easier create the change we want to see in our world.
The Freshlyground musical portfolio does not only contain the overtly political. Pot Belly is a simple but fun video that speaks a universal language of self acceptance and self worth. In the context of South Africa, which has so recently shed the bonds of a cruel and unjust apartheid system, the video images speak volumes as they reverberate on so many more subtler levels. That to me is the definition of literature, and the brilliance of authors like Mark Twain who are at once revolutionary and accessible. And it bears repeating for the joy of finding ever more connections. And did I mention that it is just plain adorable?
This is actually the second video made for I’d Like. Although I find both charming, the first one was an earlier recording before the band had the luxury of better equipment and production. The first version bespeaks of a surreal dream world that smitten lovers can find themselves in. The later version is more elegant and poignant. I chose it not only for the superior musical quality, but because it speaks to the versatility of Freshlyground’s expression. It is easy to see why Kyla Rose is becoming everyone’s sweetheart. Zolani had our hearts from Doo Be Doo.
Nomvula is Xhosa, translated as “after the rain.” Zolani is a native speaker of Xhosa, but also boasts an ability to sing and speak an astonishingly array of languages from African dialects to European. She is the lyricist of most of their original works. Although not a word of Xhosa is intelligible to me, her voice makes me understand on a core-of-my-being level. I find the frequent mix of English, French, and Xhosa as wonderfully rich as the interplay of bass guitar with classical violin and classical flute with mbira. Meet the Band!
One of the greatest pleasures I’ve experienced since Whirled Peas Café Radio has gone on the air is the discovery of wonderful “new-to-me” music. Freshlyground is one of many, and many more to come. One of the perks of my community profiles is that I ask my guests to bring in, at the very least, a handful of their favorites so I can stretch my own musical boundaries. Now, this blog also gives an opportunity for listeners to comment and share their finds and favorites. Please do so. WDBX is, after all, YOUR community radio station for Southern Illinois. At Whirled Peas Café Radio, we aim to provide “Musical Comfort Food with a World of Spice.” Participate and become a member!