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.
Kyla has 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, The Unbinding 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 through the Dorkay House musical development programme. 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, Derek Gripper, Gito Baloi, Funsho Ogundipe, Nneka, Bongeziwe Mabandla, Lark, electronic producer Markus Wormstorm and Oh Mercy.