The soil is an acapella Soul and Jazz band, which have grown over the years and now comprise of three members. This group is best described as Kasi Soul and take their listeners to a different world rhythmically. The group endeavours to fuse their diverse and beautiful voices to produce what can only be described as a melodic and harmonious yield. Their music delivers messages aimed to uplift listeners as well as heal the souls of those who relate all around the world.
The original member of their group, as they believe, is their creator who is always with them in spiritual form. Apart from their creator, the group consists of, Buhlebendalo Mda, Luphindo Ngxanga and Ntsika Fana Ngxanga. The two backing vocalists, on occasion, are the talented Asanda and Tshwarelo.
Their belief that The Soil channels their songs in a somewhat supernatural sense came from their very own mouths. They believe the music comes to them from somewhere deep down, a place in which they merely serve as mediums for the energy and message channel through to audiences.
On a rhythmical level they are perfectly balanced and harmonised into one sublime reverberation. Once South Africa was up and coming and now well established, the group promises to be this century’s version of their fellow countrymen and artists, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, even without the finer musical knowledge.
The soil, a township acapella group with no formal training and can’t read a musical note amongst them, are the forerunner for the next generation. Their music boasts a fusion of Soul, Hip-Hop, Jazz and Afro-Pop. They became known to the public when they performed at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival. The group performed with no musical instruments, no lessons, just three local voices and a bit Jazz for inspiration. That’s all they had due to problematic childhoods in Soweto, Johannesburg.
“Growing up in Soweto, you can’t just find a house with a piano, it’s very rare to find a home with a set of drums sitting there,” said Buhle Mda, the group’s only female member.
“You just use what you have,” she added.
Luphindo “Master P” Ngxanga is the group’s human beat-box. He pumps rhythmic sounds with his mouth while playing air bass guitar. His brother, Ntsika, pairs with Buhle on vocals to perfectly complete the trio.
They exude a very modern sound with undertones that play to their traditional influences, which can also be used to describe their style, as the trio comes across slightly cheeky and radiates urban confidence, which is a long call from their start in native Soweto.
The group is an equal partnership or, as they say, a majority rule. The group scripts lyrics together in both English and Xhosa. They aim to tell the true story of life in an exceptional country where hope is vital with most of the younger generation being unemployed. Only one percent is fantasy, the rest reality as they aim to connect with their audiences as they touch on love, family and community in an ever expanding frame of art and perspective.
Their message is directed at a diverse community, which was first Soweto, then Johannesburg and soon the world.
“Maybe we sing about poverty and how it has struck our communities, and we bring hope from those sad stories.” “And when it derives from those love songs we joke about things,” explained Ntsika. “And we take from experiences that maybe Buhle went through and Master P over there, or myself and we just make the song of that. And people relate to that kind of music.”
They have progressed in leaps and bounds within a short period of time. They were welcomed at New York’s Apollo Theatre and at the Edinburgh International Festival the year prior, and it all started over ten years ago, with their very own High School Musical group.
“We would have musical sessions that looked more like poetry sessions at times. At times it also looked like rap sessions, but those sessions became more musical.” remembered Ntsika.
In 2005 music became a more serious endeavour for the group and a repertoire of ten songs soon built up. More than a decade has passed and they have a double platinum album. That’s more than 100 000 recorded sales. Not to mention the hundreds of thousands of fans across the country and their coveted prime spot at one of the largest Jazz festivals in Africa.
“From the moment we started singing, forming this group, we had a list of places we would like to perform at, and the Cape Town Jazz Festival has always been in that top five,” said an upbeat Ntsika.
The two-day event hosted an excess of forty acts sourced from across the world, including America’s acclaimed Erykah Badu.
They’ve achieved one dream. Another was to perform with Joseph Shabalala, the originator of the multi-Grammy award winning group, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and match his accomplishments.
“His music and the rest of the Mambazo has been a very big influence on our music as well as music from different artists in South Africa,” said Buhle. “The thing that we like about Mambazo is that they choose to stick to it and they were never ashamed to perform all their songs in Zulu abroad, but still to be able to touch people’s soul, in different ways,” she continued.
The Soil’s first album was self-titles will transport you back to early days. The music produced by this trio stands testimony to the point that God made man to use the soil and thousands of years later, He bequeathed a voice to The Soil. It is with this belief that The Soil summonses listeners to listen with the ear to the ground as you might overhear the sounds.
Unlike Kasi Soul, the music features, in a fashionable township style, a diverse mix of melodic genres, like Jazz, Hip-Hop, Afro-Pop and Afro-Soul. The group’s style in music is evident in its rhythmic vocal bass line and continuous beat-boxing, which is a distinct piece in the music. The remaining voices add to the choral and polyphonic supplement.
The members are equals among each other and up to the challenge of sometimes performing solo. Individually they take shots in solo vocal presentations to display their most attractive renditions of their musical verses implanted in each song. The group’s album is a replication of their ambition to encourage a world filled with joy, hope, faith, kindness and love; a note that is carried out with each concert and every song.
The Journey album is the result of years of commitment, hard efforts and an endless desire for the art. Having waged their dues as an accomplished group throughout the nation, The Soil is as contented at big music festivals and gigs as they are on small and theatre stages.
The group has graced platforms of some of the most distinguished events, like the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz Festival, Grahams Town Arts Festival, Jazz by the River as well as many theatre stages like the Nelson Mandela Theatre and the Catalyst Theatre in Cape Town.
It is through this vision that The Soil endeavours to be a household name and international brand stamped on the hearts and minds of those who aim for a restored world.