This past summer, South African songstress Lira and her band performed in Los Angeles, and Wiles was there!
Soulful, energetic and engaging are just a few of the words that come to mind to describe Lira as a woman, as well as a performer. We recently connected with her to find out more about her career triumphs as a member of South Africa’s sensational music scene, and her new album, Rise Again, slated for release on January 13.
In addition to releasing four platinum selling albums, over the past 8 years, Sony Music vocalist Lira has graced the covers of numerous fashion & lifestyle magazines and won a multitude of accolades from The South African Music Awards, MTV Africa Awards, Channel O Awards, Metro FM & MOJO Awards as well as Glamour Magazine South Africa’s “Woman of the Year.”
She also boasts the first music video from her country to be put into rotation on VH-1.
Football (soccer) fans may recognize Lira from her performance at the 2010 FIFA World Cup Kick-Off Concert where she shared the stage with megastars Alicia Keys, Shakira, Black Eyed Peas, K’Naan and John Legend.
She also took part in the 92nd birthday celebration 3D live telecast of former South African president Nelson Mandela. Lira recently won the award for “Most Gifted Female Video” at the 2011 Channel O Awards, and will have the theme music in Oprah Winfrey’s forthcoming documentary surrounding her school in South Africa.
Now that she has successfully conquered her homeland, Lira is ready to explore new markets and share her unique style with the rest of the world.
“I have a very specific vision for myself because I have a message informed by my experiences from South Africa,” she told us. “I’m an urban African. I grew up in the city- not in the rural areas. But what’s important is that we are evolving and want to contribute to the world. We’re the new generation of Africans. We think differently, and we reflect that in our work.”
Lira is excited about her forthcoming album, Rise Again and is optimistic that her upbeat sound will resonate with American audiences.
“I hope they’ll feel great when listening to it. I know life is tough and the global economy places people is an uneasy space… my music brings messages of hope, comfort, and celebration. It’s meant to make you feel good through all of life’s trials and tribulations.”
A native of the Daveyton township in Johannesburg’s East Rand section, Lira grew up listening to the likes of Nina Simone, Ornette Coleman, Nat King Cole, Barbara Streisand and, of course, South Africa’s own global icon Miriam Makeba.
Deftly combining Soul R&B jazz, and funk, Lira’s songs are sung in English and a combination of 3 native languages – a blend she dubs “Afro Soul.”
As a singer/songwriter, Lira acknowledges how the complexities of growing up in South Africa – a country as aesthetically beautiful as it is marred by a legacy of oppression - have shaped her, musically.
“I’ve noticed that some of my perceptions are influenced by my South Africa upbringing, which is the experience of apartheid, the transition into a democratic government and then having to figure out what to do with our newfound freedom. Nelson Mandela set the tone for a peaceful transition and integration. My generation has to define and determine how we move forward. I’m playing my part.”
And, now, it appears that the international music world is quite ready to receive her. Lira describes her new album Rise Again – her first released in the United States – as a combination of tracks from past albums which have only been released in South Africa.
“It was tricky finding the balance of bringing numerous songs together from different chapters of my musical journey,” she shared. “For lack of a better description it’s a ‘best of’ album. The album has a fresh title and new packaging. Sonically my producer has reworked the mixes, and as a whole, the material has been given a revamp overall. “
The album combines songs from Lira’s latest album released in South Africa (Return to Love) and some classics from her two previous studio albums, Feel Good and Soul in Mind.
Lira will be filming a new music video for her single “Feel Good” – which will be the first single from the new album introduced to the U.S. In the meantime, you can check out Lira performing the track live:
Lira is planning a 45 venue U.S tour in Spring 2012. For more information about Lira’s tour dates and personal appearances, please visit: