Lira has become one of Africa’s most-loved musicians. Image: Supplied
It’s a good time to catch up with Lerato Moipone Molapo, whom South Africans know as Lira, as it is her birthday on Sunday 14 March.
Lira has become one of Africa’s most-loved musicians. Image: Supplied
Lira’s name means “love” in Setswana and she speaks four languages. This multi-platinum-selling artist and 11-time South African Music Award-winning Afro-Soul powerhouse refers to her music as a fusion of soul, funk, jazz and African.
It gave me great joy to chat to Lira this week as I have seen her rise over the years to become a much-adored mega-star not just in South Africa, but beyond.
I was fortunate to work at the record company that signed Lira some years ago as a highly promising, upcoming artist. I saw her very first show in Cape Town, when she played to a tiny audience in a bar in Long Street, Cape Town.
When Lira sang we heard a pure, angelic voice and we knew it was only a matter of time before success deservedly came her way.
The new decade means?
There is a freshness and an air of newness about new beginnings. However this one has started off on a very unusual note. I feel uncertain of where things are going in the world – our lives have been turned upside down. It seems a good idea to stay upbeat, happy, creative and positive until we figure out what’s really going on.
Fame is about?
I’m really not sure how to answer that. I don’t give fame much thought.
Retirement will happen when?
When I feel tired and uninspired to do what I do. When it no longer fulfils me as much or when my body is too weary then it’s probably time to throw the towel.
I don’t do?
Clubs or venues where people smoke. I don’t hang out there and I don’t perform there. Luckily the law in most parts of the world prohibits smoking inside venues. But some still allow it and it’s simply not worth it for me as I get so sick from being in such environments.
What does music mean to you?
Music is the soundtrack to life. It’s how we capture moments, feelings and memories. Music often allows people to express themselves and feel their emotions when they did not have the words or means to. Music also pulls people together. It’s a privilege to creatively work with such a medium.
My music is about?
Inspiration, upliftment, encouragement, fun and self-expression.
I would love to co-write with?
John Legend and John Meyer. I also love Sjava’s writing.
What is the most enjoyable aspect of your work?
The live performances. It’s one thing creating beautiful music but it all gets completed when you share it with your audience and they feel it – this is magic.
The song you must do in every show?
Feel Good without a doubt!
Any funny moments on stage?
I have once fallen on stage — flat on my bum while trying to run out for a costume change. This happened in the 15th year of my career – I was baffled but found it hilarious.
Michael Jackson was a big hero of mine. He helped me find my confidence and a skinny girl on stage. I learnt so much just watching him.
My style icon?
Hmm, I was influenced my Miriam Makeba but my general style icon would be my mom. She has timeless sophistication and is not one to follow trends. She wears what she loves and feels good in.
Which living person do you admire most and why?
Right now it’s would be Trevor Noah, highly focused and determined. It’s phenomenal to watch his star rising — his journey is a big inspiration.
What is your most treasured possession?
My portable fireplace that my sister bought for me — I love that thing! It’s beautiful, warm, cozy and super light, so I literally have it wherever I need it.
It’s your round: What are you drinking?
Champagne or “joy juice “as I refer to it. Even a champagne cocktail will do.
Dream gig to do?
I’d love to perform at the Hollywood Super Bowl. I’ve attended several concerts there and sat right up front, every time moving closer and closer to the stage!
What makes you stand out?
I embrace my uniqueness and my quirkiness. My motto is “No one can beat me at being me.”
Li – most people call me Li or some slight variation of that.
If you were not a musician, what would you do?
I’d be a teacher, carpenter or accountant, which I actually studied and worked as for two years. I’m a natural teacher, but I love carpentry.
Pick five words to describe yourself
Passionate, free-spirited, fun, brave and adventurous.
Five favourite SA albums of all time?
Greatest movie ever made?
Avatar by James Cameron.
What song changed your life?
My song Feel Good – it really, truly changed my entire life.
What do you love?
Life. I really love life, the process of growth, feelings, people, music joy, challenges, food, travelling and love itself — the entire thing!
Favourite fashion item?
My red Bathu tekkies.
Top of your bucket list?
Visiting Iceland – I would have ticked it off in 2020 if COVID had not interfered.
Your greatest achievement?
What do you complain about most often?
Things interfering with my freedom.
What is your fear?
Not living up to my potential. Having dreams that are unfulfilled.
Loving yourself and your life. I mean in terms of self-acceptance, and being OK with yourself and your life exactly as it is. As you work towards being better you come at it from a space of contentment still.
On stage I tend to?
Completely let go of all worries and concerns. It’s really my happiest place and it feels like time stands still.
The best life lesson you have been taught?
When you feel bad it’s your spirit’s way of letting you know your thinking is off track with the truth of you. When you feel good you’re perfectly in alignment, so keep going as you are. I like to say: “Feel good, Feel God”.
Do you get worked up while watching a sports game on TV?
To a degree, so I really manage my TV intake and limit it to stuff that is easy and not emotionally demanding or draining.
Where would you like to be right now?
I’m typing this outside a wooden table on a patio in the wilderness in Namibia. There are wild animals roaming and I can hear the stream in the gorge beneath as well as many birds singing. I’m very happy to be here.
Do you do charity work? If yes, what do you do?
Personally, I support various students though education. Education makes sense to me as a sustainable solution to poverty. I support organisations that also do this work on a grander scale.
I also take on invitations to get involved in assisting various initiatives, including feeding communities that are adversely affected by COVID and gender-based violence. I also assist the Mbuba Foundation whose main focus is to ensure young girls are provided with sanitary towels.
Wishes and dreams?
I’ve had many of my dreams come true. However, my ultimate dream is to win a Grammy Award. I attended the Grammy Awards in January 2020 in Los Angeles.
Follow Lira on Instagram and Twitter @Miss_Lira and Facebook @MissLIRAMusic. Her website is at misslira.com.
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