Sony Music Africa recording artist LIRA is following in the footsteps of the legendary Miriam Makeba & Letta Mbulu, releasing four multi-platinum albums making her one of South Africa’s highest selling acts – now the Afro-Soul vocalist prepares to release an American album; a live in concert DVD; as well as a cinematic debut in The Italian Consul. Not to mention being nominated for Best International Act at the 2012 BET Awards
Elegant. Soulful. Radiant. Few words come close to describing the rich, silky sound of South Africa’s preeminent female vocalist of the 21st century, LIRA. Widely regarded as South Africa’s top adult contemporary artist, LIRA has racked up an impressive series of achievements since launching her musical career nearly a decade ago, blazing a trail of accomplishments that few artists in the history of the continent can lay claim to like releasing the first blu-ray, gracing the covers of an infinite number of fashion and lifestyle magazine and maintaining the largest Facebook following of any African born musician, with over 325,000 fans. Her flawless dossier boasts a multitude of accolades and nominations from South African Music Awards, MTV Africa Awards, Channel O Awards and MOBO Awards as well as Glamour Magazine South Africa’s “Woman of the Year” – all of which have left an indelible impression on Africa-at-large.
LIRA is already a beloved superstar in her homeland, where her first five albums and her first live DVD have achieved platinum and multi-platinum status. Now, with the North American release of her new album Rise Again, the charismatic songbird is ready to introduce new ears to her elegantly yet earthy Afro-soul fusion. LIRA is excited by the prospect of conquering America. “Within South Africa, I almost feel like I’ve done everything, I need to spread my wings and fly. I’m thirsty for it. I’m enthusiastic about it. I almost feel like I needed to take this long to get ready, to grow as a musician and a performer. Now I feel like I have something to offer.” In recent months, American media outlets have been taking notice, with Essence magazine naming LIRA one of “Five Unique Artists Set to Change Music” in its December 2011 issue.
Reared on a steady diet of American soul luminaries LIRA’s music is a glowing testament to her immense growth, eschewing poignancy and despair for lyrics replete with hope, love, and a profound sense of interconnectedness. One listen to Rise Again will confirm why LIRA has been enthusiastically embraced by audiences around the world. The multi-lingual young artist’s distinctive, effervescent song craft combines breezy melodicism, irresistible rhythmic drive and uplifting, personally-charged lyrics that allow such memorable tunes as “Feel Good,” “Believer,” “Valley of Darkness” and the album’s title track—all of which have already been hits in South Africa—to fulfill her goal of making music that’s “beautiful, uplifting, empowering and celebratory.”
Rise Again—whose songs are drawn from LIRA’s massively popular South African releases—offers a persuasive testament to the human spirit’s ability to transcend in the face of obstacles and seemingly insurmountable odds, and her confident and vibrant, inspired performances bring the songs’ upbeat lyrical sentiments to life. While LIRA’s music reflects her abiding love for such seminal influences as Miriam Makeba, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin and Nina Simone, and sits comfortably alongside the contemporary work of such performers as Sade, Maxwell and Lizz Wright, but LIRA’s singular voice and deeply personal perspective make her a one-of-a-kind recording artist, as well as a top-flight concert attraction – selling out venues across Africa and Europe.
During her recent sold out 2011 Captured Tour in South Africa, Lira filmed a live in concert production Lira: The Captured Tour. The release is expected to be an even larger success than her 2009 telecast Lira; Live a Celebration which was tuned in by nine million South Africans, subsequently the DVD and Africa’s first Blu-Ray went on to secure 3x multi-platinum certification becoming the country’s fastest and highest selling music videodisc, supplanting international diva Celine Dion’s reign at the top: Live in Las Vegas; A New Day.
In May 2012, Lira makes her cinematic debut as the support lead in the Antonio Falduto directed drama, The Italian Consul (Il console italiano). The film premiered at the Taormina Film Festival in Italy where Lira became only the second African vocalist to grace the Teatro Del Greco stage since Miriam Makeba. The singer stars in a lead role opposite Italian actress Giuliana de Sio – as well as Edwin Angless and Anna Galiena, while the film centers around the trafficking of girls in Europe.
As part of a new cadre of African artists making waves stateside such as K’Naan, Nneka, and Ayo, LIRA sees herself as an ambassador of the new Africa: a land where, despite a recent history filled with obstacles, a future brimming with infinite possibilities lies. LIRA feels that this pressure to thrive outside of convention has bred a unique brand of ingenuity that will propel her and her fellow artists to the world stage.
“We’re proud of being African, but there’s also a desire to be a part of the world. Part of the way we can raise the consciousness back home is when people see us rise on the world stage. We don’t do it for the individual(ism); we do it for the entire group.”
LIRA has yet to take her eyes off one of the main objectives of her plan: to conquer the world with Afro-soul; An urbane, sophisticated genre described as “a fusion of soul music, elements of jazz, funk, and African languages.” Now, after years of triumphant transcendence, prestigious accolades, and record-breaking milestones in her homeland, LIRA is poised to take America by storm.