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Multiple award-winning and Platinum-selling group Mango Groove, formed by bassist John Leyden, cut its teeth on the mid-80’s SA alternative music scene and exploded on to national consciousness with the release of its self-titled debut album in 1989.
Presenting a unique combination of Claire Johnston’s soaring vocals and the classic African jazz pennywhistle and horn sounds of the late Mickey Vilakazi (who composed their hit Hellfire, but passed away in 1988) and other African jazzmen, the band had appeal across all South African communities.
Since then the group, with its uniquely eclectic, big band ‘’Marabi-Pop’’ sound has continued to capture hearts. The group has released six studio albums, nine compilations and two dozen videos and singles, and demonstrated sold-out appeal at venues from the Sun City Superbowl to the Standard Bank Arena.
NBC used their music in the broadcast of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison, and the group was subsequently a headliner at the inauguration concert. Internationally, they’ve also made a big impact, performing at the Hong Kong handover concert, the Paris SOS Racisme concert and the Montreux Jazz Festival and the Apollo in London.
They continue to entrance younger audiences at SA festivals including Splashy Fen, Oppikoppi and Rockin’ the Daisies. IOL declared, “30 years on, the group still has juice.” Johnston agrees: “Now we’re the elders in the South African music industry and at a different phase in our career.
So it would appear that we still have our fan base. It’s sort of young and old. It’s so thrilling that at OppiKoppi, people go nuts when we walk on stage and that’s the power of music. It never really goes away.” (http://www.mangogroove.co.za)