Lira: The Queen of Afro-Soul

South Africa's Musical Super Star, Lira

As South Africa’s biggest artist of the 21st century, the graceful and soulful singer, LIRA, has earned accomplishments that few artists in the history of the entire continent can claim. Her accomplishments of which include a multitude of South African Music Awards (SAMAs), MTV African Awards, MOJO Awards, Glamour Magazine’s Woman of the Year, a multitude of magazine covers and platinum albums: all of which have left an indelible impression on Africa at-large.

Growing up in the Daveyton township in Johannesburg’s East Rand, LIRA’s world was once ruled by the harsh realities of South Africa’s apartheid. As part of a new assemblage of African artists making waves stateside such as K’Naan, Nneka and Blitz the Ambassador, LIRA now sees herself as an ambassador of the new Africa, a land where, despite a recent history filled with obstacles, there is a future brimming with infinite possibilities.

Inspired by American soul greats such as Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin and Nina Simone, LIRA’s sound can be described as Afro-Soul, a fusion of soul music with elements of jazz, funk and African languages. In 2003, LIRA’s debut album, All My Love, began making waves on the South African music scene. The title track quickly became the most played South African song on radio, eventually earning the grand distinction of dethroning an international superstar Beyoncé from the top spot. LIRA soon signed a deal with Sony Africa and released her 2006 sophomore album, Feel Good. Continuing her already distinguished legacy of firsts, Feel Good earned LIRA her first South African Music Awards (SAMA). In addition, the music video for the title track was the first ever by a South African artist to be aired on VH-1.

In 2008, she released her album, Soul In Mind, which went on to set a SAMA record for most awards won in a single year (four) by a single artist which included best remix, best adult contemporary album, album of the year and female artist of the year. In 2009, LIRA began her most ambitious venture yet: a live DVD. While the soundtrack would become LIRA’s fourth platinum album certification, the DVD became the first Blu-Ray music DVD release issued in the entire continent. After nine million South Africans tuned into the concert’s subsequent telecast, the DVD went on to secure a triple platinum certification becoming the country’s fastest and highest selling music videodisc. Earlier this year, LIRA unveiled the silky and spiritual album Return to Love.

In the midst of an exciting world tour, LIRA released a five-track EP, which will serve as her introduction to American audiences. The LIRA EP, a collection of songs that is likened to that of Sade and Maxwell. The EP will serve as a mouth-watering audio appetizer for LIRA’s full-length fourteen-track American LP Feel Good in early 2012. The EP features stunning live versions of her hit songs “Feel Good” and “Rise Again” as well as three exclusive tracks “Dance of Life“, “Crush” and “Ngiyabonga.” The single “Feel Good” saunters with a silky confidence that opens into a vamp brighter than the morning sun. A polyglot with five languages under her belt, LIRA gives thanks and praise on the gratitude-filled “Ngiyabonga” (which means “thank you” in Zulu) sung completely in one of her many native tongues. The Spanish guitar driven “Rise Again” is an ardent lyrical testament to the triumphs of the remarkably resilient human spirit in the face of obstacles and seemingly insurmountable odds.

In addition to her music career, LIRA has also added brand ambassador to her impressive resume, with appearances in major ad campaigns by Audi, MAC Cosmetics, Samsung and Blackberry. However, she has yet to take her eyes off one of the main objective to conquer the world with Afro-soul. Now, after nearly a decade of triumphant transcendence, esteemed accolades and record-breaking milestones in her homeland, LIRA is poised to take America by storm!