South African Star:LIRA

By :- Janette Brin

Industry

Fresh from a performance in Washington D.C. South African superstar Lira returned to New York with the Love Band. She was in town for a show at S.O.B. (Sound of Brazil) on January 23, 2013. Lira was one of the artists invited to perform at the inaugural ball in honour of President Barack Obama's second term in office. Lira radiates love so her shows are always fun, touching emotionally moving, and of course fun. Lira is totally in tune with her band, you can tell they all truly love what they do. I can only imagine the amazing energy they brought to the inaugural festivities. Not only do her songs touch you but the stories about and around her songs touch you.

Lira loves to have a good time with her audience; she took the stage wearing an asymmetrical tan dress. She soon had the audience feeling like they were guests in her home for a private concert. True fans were not disappointed as Lira sang a full range of some of her most well loved songs. Among the ; "Hamba" ,"Call Me", "Feel Good", and the song she sang for the President and Mrs. Michelle Obama, "Ngiyazifela". This was a song the audience had been looking forward to hearing. Lira's touching story about why she chose this song made it even more special.

Lira closed out the show with the help of J'Something, a member of the South African band Mi Casa who also performed at the ball. The crowd had a great time watching them show off some South African dance moves. It seemed the party was just getting started when her set ended. The crowd wanted more, Lira was ready to do an encore; however SOB's show schedule was written in stone. Fortunately Posh get a chance to spend some time with this amazing artist, and hear about her latest American adventure.

P: Lira, what was in like being a part of the inauguration festivities?

L: It was really busy; I didn't even really get a chance to mingle. I was on the red carpet, I was onstage, and I was doing interviews. It was impossible to get around the city because everything was blocked off. What an exciting atmosphere, just to be there. Interestingly enough at his first inauguration I just happened to be in Kenya on holiday. So I've experienced to really special versions of his inauguration, it was quite epic for me and our whole team, it was just beautiful.

P: How was the experience of performing at the ball?

L: I particularly enjoyed our performance, and of course we had a lot of ambassadors there. There were a lot of high profile people, and everybody really enjoyed the show so I'm glad.

P: Tell me about the song you performed for the President and his wife

L: the song is called Ngiyazafela, it's one my biggest love songs in South Africa. I wanted to sing something South African, and at the back of that I put Lets Stay together by Al Green Which I know is one of the President's favourite songs. The two songs are very similar so one segued into the other, it was important for me to represent my heritage. It's a really sweet song.

P: Did you get any feedback from the first couple?

L: they loved it; they just loved all the African songs. Often the concern is there that people don't understand the lyrics. They understand the rhythm; they understand the feeling of the song.

P: Did you get to spend time with any other artists while you were in D.C.?

 L: I actually linked up with Kenny Lattimore, D.C. is his hometown and he was kind enough to get together with us and we had a little dinner and a chat. Obviously I'm trying to get into this market and he has a great insight in terms of the getting into the market. I'm actually going to California to meet up with some of his producers to see what's out there. While I'm here I'm trying to use all of those opportunities.

P: the two of you met previously while he was in South Africa is that right?

L: Kenny surprised me; he spoke about me on radio. I think someone told him that there is this Lira girl so he expressed a desire to meet with me. I was in the vicinity so I called him up and met with him, and then invited him to a show. As far as I knew, he couldn't attend the show because he was invited somewhere else. He surprised me and showed up. Not even that but he showed up onstage, what an honour it was just so unexpected. He came and he stayed more than half the show. My shows are two hours long and he stayed and it was just nice that he was moved to be a part of it. It really solidified our desire to work together; he is huge in South Africa. The male singer will always thrive in South Africa. We love a good song with good male singers so he still does very well in South Africa.

P: you've also met dj/producer Louie Vega, and his wife Anane while they were in South Africa as well, true?

L: Yes Louie Vega, and of course I met her at the press conference in South Africa, she's lovely. He's very keen to work with us as well. I really believe we will - he's worked with Kenny as well.

P: did you have a chance to speak with Miss USA while you were there?

L: Yes I actually met her again in D.C. we took some pictures as well and I met her mom who is a South African -- I didn't even know. Her mom told me they run a foundation called the Meriwether Foundation.  I also met Miss teen USA as well.

P: I know that you have been involved in some community projects in South Africa, are you still able to make time for these activities?

L: I have to schedule everything; I actually have to install a TV in a school’s library. They receive a lot of DVDs from the United States for the school. I'm involved with the school is that the kids don't pay to attend the school. They have one of the highest pass rates in South Africa they are under incredible leadership.  The school is run by a woman principle and she's just so innovative they really fight for their students.  So I was really touched by their story, they said we have this library and so many DVDs but we don’t have a TV.  So I'm giving a TV to the school -- and I've got to go and launch that. I also bought into a high school magazine but really wanting to use it as a tool to further the thing that I care about the most education. To start putting some of the programs I feel equipped me for life into the student environment. This way they can receive some of these ideas right now and they don't have to wait till it's too late.

P: How did the Love Band get its name?

L: it's going to sound so cheesy but the first thing is we love what we do it’s not often when you get a team of people that are so glued as a family we love each other we also love what we do. We get up on that stage and we come together to do what we do. As human beings there's two things we understand we feel and that is love so if you are confident are so present in your gift anyone gets that and see receives that energy and love as well. The audience perceives it as well and those are the things that are important to us in terms of the team.

P: Who would you most like to work with?

L: John Legend, I've always loved him as a composer. He's got an old school soulful feel about him. I've always respected him as a male vocalist and a composer; I'd love to do something with him. That's my most desired collaboration.

P: How do your fans at home feel about your increasing international reach?

L: Everyone is just blown away by how we are just going for it in the world. In terms of my albums and performances; we always sell out. I need to have sense of hunger, and I still do.  Back home we release an album and it goes platinum, everything we do goes to platinum. It's fantastic, and it's just to expand on that, to keep seeing how much we can grow.  It terms of performances and live productions and shows; we’re doing it on an international scale. Nobody else is quite able to do it on that level. In order for me to keep getting better I need to expand, and I love bringing possibility back home. The only way I can grow is if I expand and go outside of the country. So that's pretty much where I'm at, and it's a very exciting place to be because I'm building, and leaving a legacy.

P: You were also nominated for a BET award, how did you feel about that?

L: Even though I didn't win that was a huge achievement.  They have never nominated a non hip hop act that was female and African on top of that.  So I’m saying ok we're breaking down barriers. When everyone thinks of international African artists, they are thinking hip hop only, and that’s not all we are.  So just getting in there, I did not see it coming. I also think that the world is returning to a love of songs, and beautiful music as displayed by the Adele’s, and Amy Winehouses of this world. 

P: What is it that drives the intense energy you use to connect with your audience?

L: I have a great love and appreciation for what I do. What I'm always hoping to do is to create an experience that is emotionally charged. Not only for myself but the audience as well. With my team, if we feel something happening there then we all have an experience with what I'm trying to connect with. The only way I can do that is to be true, to really be true to every single lyric that I sing. And to feel everything that I' saying.

P: Was J'Somthing coming to New York with you guys part of the plan originally?

L: Well. We all bonded in the process. They were going to go back home. When they heard we were going to New York, and he said I'd love to come with you guys and watch the show.  We've never done anything onstage together so I know all the South African's will be fiercely jealous. It was just nice to get an opportunity in this part of the world to do something like that.

P: Tell me about the song you sang about money, why is it considered controversial back home?

L: You know they'll say money is the root of all evil and it's biblical all of these nonsensical things. It really speaks to the attitude that we have towards a resource. If our attitude towards something is negative of course we're not going to attract it and we need it to put food on our tables, to survive.  So why do we demonize it so much. We are in an environment where some of our leaders are corrupt, or they hoard it and we’ve never been like that as a people. It was just touching on those things in terms of attitude and why not have it as a prayer for something that comes towards us in an abundant manner. 

P: What role has the concept of changing a mindset played in your musical and personal life?

L: I've done some amazing transformations in my life  I've seen what changing my mindset has done for my career, I’ve achieved it with my own organization. Something phenomenal is happening so I think about it's not just ideas.  It's a living breathing proof of what that mindset can do, so I think about these things because these are my truths.  These are my experiences, and this is how we'll change our lives.  It starts with how you perceive things; a thing is only bad if you decide it's bad, a thing is only good if you decide it's good. I find that by redirecting my attitude towards possibility and positivity that's exactly what life gives back to me.

P: Any plans to return to America this year?

L: Yes I'm coming back; there are two large concerts one in May, and another in Brooklyn. I believe and I'm coming back again in June. With the next album I release we are going to do a proper tour. I'm excited about it, it's something that has to be done, and I’ve got to be out there exposing my music on a large scale.

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