By Naja Hill
Following in the footsteps of the legendary Miriam Makeba, Lira has been hailed the “Beyonce of Africa,” and after releasing four multi-platinum albums making her South Africa’s highest selling act, she prepares for her U.S. Tour and the release of Rise Again featuring the lead single/video “Feel Good”.
Many professional singers travel the world, lighting up stages with unique sounds and artistic flare. But few can boast that they opened for the World Cup, debuting their sounds on a stage viewed by millions around the globe. Lira has been spreading her musical light while helping her nation find true freedom.
Born in Ekurhuleni, East of Johannesburg, South Africa, Lira knew at a young age that she wanted to be a singer. She began writing and performing music at the tender age of sixteen. Her sound rocks smoothly between vintage and contemporary African ballots mixed with soulful rhythm and blues accents. She describes her sound as Afro-Soul. Some of her music is in English, while many of her most popular songs are in African languages, paying tribute to her homeland.
Her features are striking but what is most intriguing about this South African beauty are her depth and perspective on truly finding freedom after growing up during the apartheid era. She confided in me how small and insignificant she felt under the apartheid’s oppression. “I was trained to behave a certain way, to be a good little girl. I was never encouraged to confront any situation. Those kinds of things were so entrenched in us. But when I look at it now I realize it was really for our own protection.”
Though Lira had to overcome many things growing up in a world where the law prevented blacks from enjoying the same political and economic rights as whites, she found a light within herself to overcome the indoctrination of such notions. “A person that oppresses you controls your mind and how you perceive yourself. The biggest freedom I have noted is, first and foremost, the freedom in my thinking. A lot of the apartheid legacy is because of how we perceived ourselves as Black South Africans. So as soon as I changed my thinking, I changed my world.”