Kyla-rose Smith is an acclaimed performer, violinist, and multi-media artist. She is best known her work as violinist and backing singer with Freshlyground, South Africa's premier Afropop band. She has toured extensively inside and beyond South Africa with Freshlyground, who have garnered many awards including seven South African Music Awards (SAMA) awards, an MTV Europe Award, and four METRO awards (full list below). Kyla was also a recipient of the Glamour Woman of the Year Award 2011.

As a member of South Africa's top touring band Kyla has developed a keen interest in the art of performance and how musicians interact with their audience through the medium of sound and music, while bridging cultural divides.

In addition to her career as a violinist, Kyla is also an emerging multi-media artist. Her current projects engage with aural and visual dimensions of contemporary society. She is the co-artistic director and artist facilitator of Hear Be Dragons, a sound mapping project and artistic exchange program. Hear Be Dragons is a community based creativity initiative to get young people thinking about sound and the city and the way these influence our quality of life, perceptions of history and memory, and notions of identity. This project maps the aural landscape and explores the unknown as a means of liberating awareness and access to rapidly transforming and gentrifying neighbourhoods around the world.

She is currently producing a multi-disciplinary work, The Nothing, in collaboration Luyanda Sidiya, Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year for 2014.

Kyla has also curated and produced a variety of contemporary artistic pieces from South Africa and beyond. She co-produced a multi-media performance for Cape Town’s recent TEDx conference and has curated performances across a range of genres for artistic events around South Africa.

In 2014, Kyla was selected as a OneBeat Fellow to collaborate for one month with artists around the world. OneBeat is an incubator for music-based social entrepreneurship, supported by the US State Department, where innovative musicians from around the world launch collaborative projects designed to make a positive impact on local and global communities.

Kyla was a co-founder of the Kolo Novo Movie Band – a seven member Cape town based Balkan band, playing music originating from Eastern Europe. This band was a key feature on the burgeoning South African Balkan party scene and performed at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival and shared a stage with Salif Keita. She is also co-founder of The Suitcase Hearts, a country/folk band on the Cape Town music scene since 2013.

Kyla studied violin under the late Walter Mony, Professor Emeritus of the Wits School of Music. She also studied Jazz performance at the University of Cape Town before leaving to pursue a full-time musical career, when she joined the renowned South African hip-hop group Tumi and the Volume in 2000. Kyla has been involved in musical development and arts outreach thorugh the Dorkay House musical development programme, where she taught weekend violin classes to disadvantaged students. She also worked with the Vuyani Dance Theatre as the principal violinist and a contributing composer to the works Rhythm Colour and Miss Thandi. She was a member of the Wits Baroque Ensemble before leaving to join Freshlyground in Cape Town in 2002, where her violin's place in the band brought another dimension to Afropop.

Kyla has featured as a violinist on the recordings of a number of well known South African and African musicians including, Gito Baloi, Funsho Ogundipe and Nneka, Bongeziwe Mabandla, Lark, Markus Wormstorm and Oh Mercy.


  • SAMA AWARD, Best Group, Take Me To The Dance, May 2013
  • SHARED INTEREST, Next Generation Award, March 2013
  • SAMA AWARD, Best Adult Contemporary English Album for Radio Africa, May 2011
  • SAMA AWARD, Album of the Year, Ma Cheri, May 2008
  • SAMA AWARD, Best Duo/Group, Ma Cheri, May 2008
  • SAMA AWARD, Best Adult Contemporary English Album, Ma Cheri, May 2008
  • CHANNEL O AWARD, Best African Band, 2008
  • O MUSIC VIDEO AWARDS NIGERIA, African Video of the Year for Pot Belly, April 2008
  • GOOD HOPE FM SA, Best performing Group, September 2008
  • METRO FM AWARD, Best Group, November 2007
  • METRO FM AWARD, Best Album, November 2007
  • METRO FM AWARD, Best African Pop Album, November 2007
  • MTV EUROPE AWARD, Best African Act, November 2006
  • METRO FM AWARD, Best African Pop Album, November 2005

notable performances

  • San Francisco Jazz, June 2015
  • Ottowa Jazz Festival, June 2015
  • BB Kings, New York City, June 2015
  • Montreal Jazz Festival, Montreal, Canada, June 2015
  • Apollo Theatre . Africa Now Festival, New York City, USA, March 2013
  • TEDX Cape Town, 2012
  • Montreal Jazz Festival . Montreal, Canada, July 2011
  • Vancouver Folk Festival . Vancouver, Canada, July 2011
  • Central Park SummerStage . New York City, USA, June 2011
  • FIFA World Cup Final Closing Ceremony, Johannesburg, South Africa July 2010
  • Luanda Jazz Festival . Luanda, Angola, July 2010
  • Paleo Festival . Nyon, Switzerland, July 2010
  • Festival Hammemet. Tunis, Tunisia, July 2010
  • FIFA Kickoff Concert, Johannesburg, South Africa June 2010
  • Rio Loco Festival . Toulouse, France, June 2010
  • Africa Festival . Wurzburg, Germany, May 2010
  • World Economic Forum. Davos, Switzerland, January 2010
  • Jazz Music Festival , Shanghai. The Republic of China, October 2009
  • FIFA World Cup 2010 Final Draw, Cape Town, December 2009
  • Radio City Music Hall, New York City, USA, July 2009
  • Celebrate Brooklyn Festival , Brooklyn, NY, USA, July 2009
  • Festival Nuits D’ Afrique, Montreal, Canada, July 2009
  • Hague Jazz Festival , The Netherlands, May 2009
  • Cape Town International Jazz Festival, Cape Town, April 2009
  • Rome Auditorium , Rome, Italy, November 2008
  • AVO Sessions , Basel, Switzerland, November 2008
  • Barbican Centre, London, United Kingdom, November 2008
  • Theatre Royal Carre, The Netherlands, September 2008
  • Toast Festival , Kensington, United Kingdom, September 2008
  • Arrezzowave Festival , Livorno, Italy, July 2008
  • Zeltival , Karlsruhe, Germany, July 2008
  • Kultursummer Festival , Oldenburg, Germany, July 2008
  • Salisbury Festival , United Kingdom, June 2008
  • Roots in Ooster Park, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, June 2008
  • Lugano Festival De Jazz, Mendrisio, Switzerland, June 2008
  • Mawa zine Festival , Rabat, Morocco, May 2008
  • Spring Festival , Cairo, Egypt, May 2008
  • Harare International Festival , Harare, Zimbabwe, May 2008
  • Lagos International Jazz Festival , Lagos, Nigeria, April 2008
  • Maputo International Jazz Festival , Maputo, Mozambique, April 2008
  • 46664 Nelson Mandela HIV Fund, Johannesburg, December 2007
  • Desmond Tutu HIV-Foundation Benefit Concert with Vusi Mahlasela, September 2006, with Sipho Hotstix August 2008,
  • Jazz Café, London, United Kingdom, July 2006
  • FIFA World Cup Handover Ceremony, Berlin, Germany, June 2006
  • Branderburger Tor FIFA 04 event, Berlin, Germany, June 2006
  • Cannes Film Festival , NFVF, Cannes, France, May 2006
  • Aichi Expo, Nagoya, Japan, March 2005
  • Pukkelpop Festival , Belgium, August, 2005 Berlin, Germany 2004