Profile: Mango Groove


Mango GrooveMango Groove is considered by many to be the original Afro-pop band. Defiantly bridging colour boundaries, it fuses the unique sounds of traditional African music such as kwela, marabi, mbube, swing and gumboot dancing with the powerful vocals of Claire Johnson and the distinct penny whistle.

The band was first formed in 1984 by John Leyden and Andy Craggs, but it was only once Johnson stepped in that the group got the recognition it deserved. In the 1980s and 1990s

Mango Groove was one of only two South African music groups with both black and white members. Their innovations in both dynamic music style and performance has led to them having at least 12 number-one hits in South Africa and selling more than 700,000 albums nationwide, enjoyed by audiences off all races and age .

Mango Groove has captured audiences internationally, performing via satellite uplink for the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in London in 1992. The band was the only African band to be asked to perform at the 1997 Hong Kong Reunification concert.

This sell-out group is also known for its charity work. Mango Groove has raised thousands of rands towards literacy, terminally ill children and conservation funds. Mango Groove is a one of a kind band that draws inspiration from the 40’s and 50’s urban beat of the South African people.

Band Members: Claire Johnston (lead vocals), Sipho Bhengu (tenor sax, vocals), Beulah Hashe (vocals), Banza Kgasoane (trumpet), Alan Lazar (keyboards, piano), George Lewis (guitar), John Leyden (bass guitar), Marilyn Nokwe (vocals), Mduduzi Magwaza (alto sax, pennywhistle), Phumzile Ntuli (vocals), Gavin Stevens (drums, percussion)

Genre: marabi, kwela, and pop music


Studio albums

  1. Mango Groove (1989)
  2. Hometalk (1990)
  3. Another Country (1993)
  4. Eat a Mango (1995)
  5. Bang the Drum (2009)

Compilation albums

  1. The Best of Mango Groove (1994)
  2. Dance Sum More… All the Hits So Far (1996)
  3. The Best of Mango Groove (2000)
  4. The Ultimate Collection (2003)
  5. Moments Away: Love Songs and Lullabies 1990–2006 (2006)
  6. The Essential Mango Groove (2008)
  7. The Rough Guide to African Disco (2013)

Places to see them in Cape Town: Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens ( a regular feature of the Old Mutual Kirstenbosch Summer Concerts)

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