Over the past few years – buoyed by multi-platinum sales of her two studio albums and live DVD, a mantlepiece full of awards and support of fans – Lira has made no secret of her desire to find a global audience for her music.
The following is an exclusive interview with this fast rising African diva about her life and profession. Read about her now, because we guarrantee you will hear about her in the American music charts very soon as she tackles the world; Brace yourself America, for another powerful African sista!
AM: What’s the first song you ever remember hearing that made you want to become a singer?
LIRA: I don’t know if there was a specific song but growing up I was influenced by a lot of American Soul music from the 80’s and 90’s I love Nina Simone, Ornette Coleman, Anita Baker, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Nat King Cole, Barbara Streisand - old-school soulful voices.
AM: Can you tell us about your breakthrough to the music moment? When and where did it happen?
LIRA: When I was 16, myself and a few friends entered a talent competition and we won. This empowered me! I had my first demo at age 18. Starting off I was signed to be the new face of R&B and Soul in a Kwaito label. I put out my first album All My Love in 2003. In 2006, I signed with Sony Africa to re-launch myself and further grow into the industry - I went on to release albums like Soul in Mind, Feel Good, Return to Love and Rise Again.
AM: What style of music do you prefer most and why?
LIRA: I like all kinds of music from Rock to Blues. I call my music Afro-Soul. It’s a combination of funk, R&B, Soul and African languages.
AM: You’ve worked with a lot of stars musicians. Tells us which ones were memorable to you?
LIRA: I haven’t really had a lot of cameos on my album. I got to perform with Hugh Masekela at the World Cup who I love. I would love to work with John Legend if the opportunity ever presented itself - he has such an old school soulful voice. We performed together in 2010 at the FIFA World Cup. When I met him he came across as extremely humble and down to earth.
AM: Can you tell us what artists have influenced you most in your career?
LIRA: Miriam Makeba is at the top of my list. She remains our greatest African global icon.
AM: Is your family musical?
LIRA: Yes. Growing up I saw the power of music at work among my family members and within my South African community. The elders would play music night and day and I observed what it could do to a people.
AM: Do you get nervous before a performance?
LIRA: Yes, I don’t quite know if the nerves will ever disappear. I’ve just learned to manage them. I find that if I’m in a calm space then I can handle. I need to have peace and quiet before a show as it helps me settle into my space and the moment. I visualize a lot and it really helps me get through.