Her name is derived from her birth name Lerato which, in her native tongue Sesotho, means “love”. And that is exactly the message that Afro-soul singer Lira wishes to impart, with feel-good tracks spanning her repertoire with titles like “Feel Good” and “Rise Again”. It ’s not surprising then that Lira’s latest album is simply entitled Return to Love.
She’s been likened to Sade and Jill Scott, but Lira herself describes her sound as a blend of “funk, reggae, urban, traditional African sounds, and, of course, plenty of soul”. Since her debut release in 2000, it was clear that Lira would be a force to be reckoned with. The then-unknown singer from Daveytown township in Johannesburg got her big break when she was discovered by prolific kwaito producer Arthur Mafokate in the year 2000. This led to her first album in 2003 entitled All My Love. But her big break came in 2006 with the release of Feel Good, her first album on a major record label.
The title track off that album became a national sensation – its uplifting lyrics becoming a near-anthem crossing genres and musical styles. Her message was simple, as the lyrics state: “Feeling good is a choice that we all make/ Just like a smile, a small effort you make / I love to feel the newness of a brand new day /Happy to be alive today”.
And ever since, Lira’s career has only grown from strength to strength. During the 2010 FIFA World Cup Kickoff Concert, she performed alongside John Legend, Shakira, Alicia Keys and K’Naan, singing the iconic Miriam Makeba song “Pata Pata”.
To date, the soulful diva has won a multitude of national awards, including MTV Africa Awards, Channel O Awards, Metro FM Awards as well as the ubiquitous SAMAs (South African Music Awards). The next step is to conquer the international market. And it seems that she is well on her way. With the release of her live DVD named Live in Concert: A Celebration, Lira became the first South African artist to release a music concert DVD on Blu-Ray in the country. To date, the DVD has gone platinum three time over.
But regardless of where her African-infused sound takes her, this artist promises to stay around for a long time. As she sings in one of her most popular hits: “Still I rise again…”
LIRA Live- Rise Again