It’s Women’s Month and Channel O celebrates Africa’s finest, most talented musicians.
We caught up with Africa’s Afro-soul princess, the award-winning Lira.
Lira’s Volt Special premieres tonight on Channel O Africa.
You’ve just returned from attending a black entertainment award ceremony, nominated for Best International Act: African. How’ve you been?
Amazing, I didn’t expect a nomination to be quite honest. Given the history of the category, the international nominees are usually hip-hop artists, I think this is the first time female-soul has been nominated. In retrospect I feel like the trophy was one thing, I feel like I gained an incredible experience. My time there was very well spent. I got into Essence Magazine, a certain African channel did a whole 45 minute feature on me. I did 12 interviews on the red carpet; their red carpet is totally different to anything I’ve had. Firstly you get presented to the photographers then you have five stopping points where you pose, “Lira – South Africa!” Specific people are asked to pose and take pictures and stuff. I had to be pulled off the red carpet to come attend the show! Which was awesome – to get that much response from the media.
As an artist, what have you taken from the American culture through your many visits there?
That I do stand out as African, which is great for me. Very often I get the, ‘you look interesting where you from?’ – which is great for me. What I picked up, when I watched the performances, was that they don’t have that much over us – we’re on par. I’m not talking about production, I could see that they spent more money, but in terms of talent, we’re on par. That was a huge thing to recognize. I was dying to get on that stage, but it’s fine, we’ll get there. We are very comparably with the greats of the world. Sometimes they sell more hype with the illusion and yet with us it’s still more real. Beyond that is the uniqueness we still have to offer. A journalist from National Geographic once put it vividly for me, “you carved out something for yourself where you could be real and inspirational and really entertaining”.
You’re being celebrated a lot lately; are you living your dream?
You can’t take it for granted. It’s ten years into my journey and I think people can relate to me as a whole. I don’t think I’m that unreachable; which is important for me. It’s exciting to see it (the love) coming to some sort of a peak. Even so, as I was saying to my fans on Facebook and Twitter, I feel like I’m at the top of one mountain and at the bottom of another. It’s like I’ve reached the peak here, but I’m really at the bottom of the barrel – and even bigger one, a bigger world, more complex. It feels like I’m starting out again, it’s good and nice to be in that space again. I’m older and wiser, more refined in my art. And I can define something that can work on a global scale. I’ve just released my Rising album in the states, which is like a ‘best of’. It’s like an introductory album; it comprises songs from Feel Good, from Soul and Mind. My next album will be released in South Africa and the states simultaneously. So I’m really at the beginning of something even bigger.
What is the production process with your videos?
I’ve always wanted a view for the global market. They have to match up my production so that they look sleek. I’ve also wanted to be unique, I just wanted to convey the stories behind my videos. Something you can relate to, “who is that, what’s their story?” It becomes a talking point.
How do you want to be remembered when all is sung and done?
As a South African who influenced the world.
Who do you celebrate as a female musician?
Two of my all-time favorite women are Sade and Miriam; They held on to their music and appealed to a global market. They are both not American, but they’ve made global successes of themselves and they kept their clothes on. They held on, in terms of their sound. I think that’s one thing that I liked about Sade in particular; she’s not influenced by global trends. It’s a great gift to an artist to do that, to be able to do your thing and know that it’ll be a success.
What on Lira’s plan for the rest of the year?
Promoting The captured Tour and Return To Love. The next album is really big, I want to take my time because I’m taking this one to the world same time.
Lira’s Volt Special premieres tonight at 9pm CAT.