Mango Groove is an 11 piece Afropop group formed in 1983 in Johannesburg, South Africa and fronted by lead singer Claire Johnston. They have sold more than 700,000 albums in South Africa alone, mostly with popular hits like "Dance Some More", "Special Star", "Hometalk" and "Nice To See You". They are releasing a brand new album - Bang The Drum, their first in over 10 years - on 21 September 2009.
While in her last year at school, Claire Johnston joined Mango Groove (founded in 1984 by John Leyden, who teamed up with Andy Craggs and ?Big Voice Jack? Lerole?). She went on to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of the Witwatersrand while touring with the band and quickly established herself as the face and voice of Mango Groove.
For the next two decades, they had an enormous impact on the South African music scene. At the time, popular multiracial music groups were not common in South Africa - the only other being Juluka, fronted by white Johnny Clegg and black Sipho Mchunu - and Mango Groove was seen as a symbol of unity in a country struggling to shake itself free of apartheid.
The group had over 12 number 1 hits in South Africa and were the only group to remain at the top of the South African national sales charts for over a year. They received almost every South African music and video award, as well as a number of global awards.
They also performed to sell-out shows in many cities across the world, including London, Paris, Hong Kong and Sydney. Their unique blend of marabi, kwela and pop music, together with the voice and presence of Claire Johnston and the penny whistle of Mduduzi Magwaza, made them very popular.
Some of the highlights of Mango Groove?s career include:
The direct satellite link-up to the The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in London in 1992 to an estimated audience of a billion people.
Their performance in front of 200,000 people at a "Rock Against Racism" concert in Paris
Their performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival where they received 3 encores
Being the only African band to be invited to perform at the "Celebrate Hong Kong ?97" Reunification Concert where they performed alongside Wet Wet Wet, Michael Learns to Rock and All-4-One.
The band released a new compilation album in 2006 - Moments Away: Love Songs and Lullabies, featuring some new songs. Three brand new videos were made to promote this, including one for the song "Southern Sky" which attracted major airplay in South Africa. 2007 also came with the news of Mango Groove planning a major national tour of South Africa again (the first in several years), the planned release of a new live-DVD, as well as the writing and pre-production of an all-new Mango Groove album.
Mango Groove released a brand new 2 CD compilation - The Essential - in November 2008, consisting of all their greatest hits remastered, plus previously unreleased tracks and exclusive remixes. They released a new DVD, titled The Ultimate Collection - consisting of most of their music videos - at the end of the year as well. According to their official website, the long-awaited new Mango Groove studio album - Bang The Drum, their first in over 10 years - now has an official release date of 21 September 2009 in South Africa. The band has described it as a "back to basics album in the vein of the first two albums, while also incorporating new elements." A major tour will follow later in 2009.
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