Unique, Honest, and Authentic: The Soothing Sounds of Lira, The Queen of Afro-Soul

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by Samantha Sanders

Since the beginning of her journey at age 16, the multi-platinum and multi-award winning Johannesburg native singer and songwriter Lira has graced audiences with her Afro-Soul style, and with the recent debut of her American album, Rise Again, Lira is giving new fans a look inside of her kindred spirit and loving soul.

 

“It’s authentic, it’s honest, it’s true, it’s positive, and it’s something new”, said Lira referring to the style of her music, “And yet it’s something awfully familiar about it”. Her smooth, good ole fashion feel good music with a modern flair has her buzz continuously growing and has warranted her to come back to the States to officially release an album after touring here in 2011.

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So who is Lira? As I sat down to speak with her about her music career I learned a lot about how she and her music are essentially one in the same, filled with love and human compassion. After winning a talent competition at age 16, Lira’s interest in music was sparked and it gave her the push to pursue a career in music. “With that win we got the opportunity to perform at amazing new places. Sort of performing for young and old and different environments and that ability to connect with people through song made me fall in love with it.  I love that you could come up with an idea, put it in a song, and connect with complete strangers. It seemed that the music transcended color and race.”

Growing up in South Africa never stopped her from dreaming big and although she says that that way of thinking was far-fetched and that being from South Africa didn’t provide you with the luxury of desiring to dream big, it only gave her inspiration to be bigger than the norm and to create a global presence and connect with people all over the world.

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Singing and songwriting has given her the tools necessary to unite people and it was legends like Aretha Franklin, Luther Vandross, and especially Stevie Wonder who made an impact on her music and her passion for songwriting. “I would say his music sort of formed the soundtrack to my upbringing. It felt like the music articulated what people were feeling at the time but couldn’t express themselves and that was the intrigue for me”, she says. “It’s like how do you capture people’s emotions, how do you guess what people are feeling and going through, putting it into a song and a melody that people will relate to and will be able to express their emotions through it? That’s what I was trying to do because I felt like that’s what their music was doing and the music also had an amazing power of uniting people.”

In addition to creating feel good music and wanting to unite people through song, Lira has had the honor of being awarded and named the “Arts Ambassador” from the Mbokodo Awards, which is an organization that recognizes women in arts and has been named songwriter of the year from SAMRO last year. “That was actually quite epic. That was actually a big one. Being amongst my peers and being awarded songwriter of the year, so I was the best songwriter in South Africa. That blew my mind.”

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Lira offers her advice to those individuals wanting to pursue a career in music stating that the most important thing to remember when being in this industry is to be strong willed, have a strong sense of self, trust your art and the belief in yourself has to be greater than your fear.

After speaking with Lira her spirit exudes calmness, compassion, and just like the meaning of her name, love. She has reached unimaginable heights throughout her career and it’s only growing into something much more amazing.  She looks forward to having new audiences to see how they will connect with the music and to give fans inspiration to live as fully as you can. Lira has truly made me a fan of not only her music but of her as a person.

I encourage everyone to pick up Lira’s debut album, Rise Again, on Amazon.com or visit your local Best Buy.

Follow Lira on Twitter and Instagram @Miss_LIRA and like her Facebook page @LIRA!

Follow me on Twitter @Poetic_byNature and on Instagram @samanthasanders08