Mango Groove

Formed in Johannesburg in 1984, developed out of the kwela-influenced funk ska band Pett Frogg.

Original members included Claire Johnston (vocals), George Lewis (guitar), John Leyden (bass), Sipho Bhengu (tenor sax), Banza Kgasoane (trumpet), Gavin Stevens (drums, percussion), Alan Lazar (keyboards) and Sarah Pontin (alto sax and clarinet). Pontin was replaced by Mduduzi Magwaza (saxophone, pennywhistle) in 1986. The band’s line-up has changed regularly over the years.

They released their debut single “Two hearts” in 1985 which did not have much impact but they attracted wider attention in 1987 with the release of their fourth single “Move up”. Their debut album Mango Groove in 1989 sold well, based especially on the popularity of the singles “Hellfire” and “Special Star”.

They continued to release singles, albums and perform into the 2000s including the release of the album Faces to the Sun in 2016. During this time several members of the band have pursued parallel careers, most notably Claire Johnston with her solo career.

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