Following in the footsteps of the legendary Miriam Makeba & Letta Mbulu, LIRA has released four multi-platinum albums making her South Africa’s highest selling act – now the Afro-Soul vocalist nominated for Best International Act at the 2012 BET Awards releases her debut worldwide album
(Los Angeles, CA ) – 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 one of 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 South African musician, with over 335,000 fans. Her flawless dossier boasts a multitude of accolades and nominations from South African Music Awards, MTV Africa Awards, BET 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, now with Rise Again the charismatic songbird is ready to introduce international ears to her elegantly yet earthy Afro-Soul; an urbane, sophisticated genre described as “a fusion of soul music, elements of jazz, funk, and African languages.” In recent months, global media outlets have been taking notice, with Essence magazine naming LIRA one of “Five Unique Artists Set to Change Music in 2012.”
Reared on a steady diet of American soul luminaries LIRA’s music is a glowing testament to her immense growth, eschewing despair for lyrics replete with hope, love, and a profound sense of interconnectedness. One listen to Rise Again will confirm why LIRA has been embraced in a world as harsh as South Africa. 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,” “Ixesha” and “Phakade” —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 catalogue —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.
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In July 2012, LIRA will release her second live in-concert DVD LIRA: The Captured Tour – filmed during her sold out 2011 tour in South Africa. 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 4x 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.
Also in July, LIRA makes her cinematic debut as the support lead in the Antonio Falduto directed drama, The Italian Consul, a film centered around the trafficking of girls in Europe. The film will premiere at the Isola del Cinema Festival in Rome, where LIRA became only the second African vocalist to grace the Teatro Del Greco stage since Miriam Makeba. In August, LIRA’S poignant track “Change it All” will appear as the theme music in Oprah’s Winfrey forthcoming documentary – OWLAG –surrounding her Leadership Academy for Girls based in South Africa which will air on her OWN Network.
As part of a new cadre of African artists making waves stateside such as K’Naan, Nneka, and D’Banj, 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, we do it for the entire group.”
Growing up in the Daveyton township in Johannesburg’s East Rand, LIRA’s world was shaped by the harsh realities of South Africa’s formerly ubiquitous racial and socioeconomic arbiter: apartheid. However, the sociopolitical constraints leveled at her generation did little to inhibit the urbane aspirations and dampen their resilient spirit of transcendence.
“In South Africa, we became very integrated with not only other black cultures, but people of all backgrounds. This made us thirsty to integrate into the world. My generation was the first to break free of our mental limitations and physical boundaries and set ourselves free in a true sense. It celebrates the human spirit, which can never be caged completely. A person can put you in a cage and hurt you, but they can’t touch your spirit and your mind. It’s celebrating those freedoms.”
In 2003 LIRA’s debut album All My Love earned the grand distinction of dethroning an international superstar from the top spot, the title track knocked Beyonce’s “Dangerously in Love” off the #1 position on South African charts, marking the first time in history a local song had been played as frequently. LIRA went on to release three more platinum selling albums including Feel Good (2006), Soul in Mind (2008) and Return to Love (2011) while the title track to her debut album “Feel Good” officially became the first music video from a South African artist featured on VH-1.
In 2010, LIRA demonstrated her international popularity when she joined Alicia Keys, Black Eyed Peas, Shakira, K’Naan and John Legend at the FIFA World Cup Kick-Off Concert to perform a rousing rendition of Miriam Makeba’s crossover classic “Pata Pata.” Soon after, she was selected to perform as part of former South African president Nelson Mandela’s 92nd birthday celebration telecast. Her performance of the popular Labi Siffre anti-apartheid tune and Mandela favorite “(Something Inside) So Strong” with the Soweto Spiritual Singers proved to be one of the most stunning live vocal performances in her career to date.
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