The group has slowly grown over the years and now comprises of 3 members. These acapella singers who they best describe as “Kasi Soul” takes their listeners to a different world rhythmically. The Soil tries to fuse their diverse and beautiful voices to produce what can only be described as a melodic and simply harmonious yield; with messages aimed at uplifting the listener and healing the souls of those who relate all around the world.
The very first member of the group, as they believe, is their Creator; always present with them in spiritual form. The three other members are artists, Buhlebendalo Mda, Luphindo Ngxanga, and Ntsika Fana Ngxanga, The two main backing vocals – on occasion – are the talented Asanda and Tshwarelo.
The belief that The Soil channels their songs came from their very own mouths. They believe the songs come to them from somewhere deep down, a sacared place where they merely serve as a medium for the energy and message to flow through to the masses.
Rhythemically they are perfectly harmonized into one sublime reverberation. Once South Africa’s up and coming, now well established, the vocal trio of The Soil promises to be this centuries version of their fellow countrymen Ladysmith Black Mambazo, even without the finer musical knowledge. A township capella group, never formally trained and can’t read a note of music amongst them, they are the forerunners for the next generation of listeners to this relaxed fusion of Soul, Hip-Hop, Jazz and Afro-Pop. They really came into public view when they played at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival. No musical instruments, no lessons, just three simple voices and a bit of local jazz for inspiration, because that’s everything these 20-somethings had through a problematic childhood 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, 26, the group’s solitary female member. “You just use what you have,” she added, sporting vibrant bright red lipstick and black-rimmed glasses. Luphindo “Master P” Ngxanga, 27, is the groups human beatbox, pumping the rhythmic sounds with his mouth all the while playing air guitar — bass guitar, to be precise. His 25-year-old brother, Ntsika, links with Buhle on vocals to complete the trio.
A very modern sound with undertones that play to the traditional influences, which can also be used to describe their style as they come across slightly cheeky and exuding urbane confidence, a long call from their start in navtive Soweto.
This team is an equal partnership or as they would put it “Majority Rules” as they script lyrics together in both English and Xhoza, to tell the true story of life in an exceptional country where most hope is vital with most under 25’s being unemployed. Only one percent fantasy, the rest reality as they aim to really connect with the audience, as they touch on love, family and community in an ever exapanding frame. Their community was Soweto, then Johannesburg, now South Africa 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 leapt a long way in a short period, welcomed with fanfare at New York’s Apollo Theatre and then the previous year’s Edinburgh International Festival. To think it all started 10 years prior, 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.
By the year 2005, music became a more serious endeaour and a repertoire of 10 songs soon built up. Now almost a decade after, they have a double platinum album – that’s more than 100,000 sales recorded – not to mention the hunderds of thousands of fans 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 that the Cape Town Jazz Festival has always been in that top five,” said an upbeat Ntsika. The two day event will host an excess of 40 acts sourced from around the world, included is America’s acclaimed Erykah Badu.
One dream down, the next will be to someday perform with Joseph Shabalala, the 73-year-old originator of multi-Grammy winners 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 Soils first album, self-titled will definitely take you back to earlier days.The group’s music stands testimony to the point that God made man using the very soil and thousands of years after He bequeathed a voice to The Soil. It is from this belief that The Soil summonses you to listen with your ear to the ground as you might overhear the sound.
Distinct as Kasi Soul, the music features (in a fashionable township style), an diverse mix of melodic genres such as jazz, hip hop, Afro-pop and Afro-soul). The group’s musical style is evident in its rhythmic vocal bass line, with continuous beat boxing - a distinct piece in the music - whilst the remaining voices add to the choral and polyphonic supplement. Equivalent and certainly up to the challenge, individually the group members take shots in solo vocal presentation to display their most attractive rendition of the musical verses implanted in each song. The album is a definite replication of the group’s ambition for a world filled with joy, hope, faith, kindness and love - a note carried out with each concert and every song.
The Journey album is a conclusion of years of commitment, hard effort and a desire for the art. Having waged their dues as a accomplished group throughout the country, The Soil is as contented at big music festivals and gigs as they are on theater stages. In the last 7 years The Soil has graced platforms of the most distinguished events such as the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz, Grahamstown Arts Festival, Jazz by the River, as well as many theater stages including the Nelson Mandela Theater and Catalyst Theatre in Cape Town.
It is through this expedition that The Soil endeavors to be a household name and a international brand stamped in the hearts and minds of those who aim for a restored world.