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Arts and Entertainment

Meet the ‘Beyoncé of South Africa’
Multiplatinum selling artist Lira is on a mission to spread good vibes
Published Tuesday, June 24, 2014 12:00 pm
by Michaela L. Duckett


South African singer Lira is embarking on her first U.S. tour, which recently stopped in Charlotte. The multiplatinum selling recording artist opened for Dwele June 22 at the Neighborhood Theater.

Lira, a multiplatinum selling artist from South Africa, has a message she wants to share with the world.

Born during apartheid just east of Johannesburg in Ekurhuleni, the 35-year-old international singing sensation said music changed her life.

“It was the companion and silent warrior that spoke for us when we were not able to,” she said. “I wanted to make music that touched people in the same manner as the Soul, R&B, and pop idols of the 80s.”

Lira began writing music at age 16 and released her first album at 24.

“It’s been a lovely, long journey,” she said of her music career. “It’s been an incredible journey, actually. I’ve broken all kinds of records back home.”

After a decade of success, selling out arenas in South Africa and much of Europe, Lira is now on a mission to make her mark in America.

This month, she kicked off her first U.S. tour, which recently stopped in Charlotte. Lira opened for Dwele at the Neighborhood Theater on June 22. The South African star, whose shows generally draw crowds of 5,000 to 10,000 people, said performing in the States is much different than performing at home.

 “I’m accustomed to far bigger shows,” she said. “What I do love about it is that I’m connecting to people in a way that I haven’t done in a long time. In a small venue, you can see virtually everyone in the room. And so it’s a different kind of connection that I’m enjoying greatly.”

In a recent interview with The Post, Lira opened up about life in South Africa under apartheid. The Shanachie Entertainment recording artist also shared the message she wants to convey through her music and her plans for the future. Here’s some of what she had to say:

On comparisons to Beyoncé:

“It comes from a space that we both have huge productions in South Africa, so it’s from that perspective. We sell out arenas. That’s where the comparison arises, but there is no other similarity. I have great respect for Beyoncé, but we are not really that similar in style or dress… But I take it as a compliment, of course.”

On her biggest accomplishments:

“That’s a tough one. I guess this tour is right up there because it’s very difficult for African artists to tour the United States or even have their music played here. The American market is so closed because the American people really consume their own music. So for us to be out here and for people to like what we do… it is amazing.

“I suppose performing for Nelson Mandela, Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama are definitely the three highlights of my career.”

On growing up black in Africa vs. America:

“You don’t recognize what you have until you compare it to another person. We have it a lot tougher [in Africa]. We are not as exposed. We don’t have as many opportunities. So it really is a lot harder. But, I am an African who has really been able to turn it around. That excites me.”

On the message behind her music:

“My music is incredibly positive. I’ve done that intentionally. Having grown up in South Africa during apartheid, I know what it’s like to feel oppressed and limited and stuck. We’ve obviously gotten to a democratic South Africa, and one of the things I felt we were never taught was how to be free. And I’ve created that freedom for myself by doing exactly what I wanted to do with my life.

“Initially, I thought it was just a South African problem, but the more I travel the more I realize that people often feel they are born into a system where they just have to follow suit. For people who want to follow their passion, it’s difficult because of how the world is constructed. So my music really speaks of self expression – accepting yourself for who you are and having the guts to express yourself.”

On the power of positive words:

“I’ve found that it doesn’t matter what circumstances you were born under, if your mental attitude is right and you are willing to do the work and do not use your own mouth to curse your life, amazing things can happen.

“It’s simple. You don’t speak negatively about yourself. You can’t help what everybody else says about you, but I learned a long time ago not to speak ill of my own life. I’m not going to say ‘I’m not good enough,’ ‘I’m ugly,’ ‘I’m not black enough,’ or ‘I’m not this enough…’ I literally banish my tongue from speaking anything other than blessings or good things upon my life… Whether you like it or not, what you are thinking, saying and doing is influencing your life. Why not do it consciously? The greatest freedom that we have is to not let [life] happen by default to actually choose it.”

On her plans for the future:

“The mission is to become a global artist. I’m consciously trying to break down barriers and get to new areas. So, it’s very exciting for me and my team to be here. It’s another dream fulfilled.”

Check out the video for Lira’s latest single “Feel Good” from her new album “Rise Again,” which is available on iTunes and Amazon.



we are with you lira.....u mek our days flourish you are great your music connects very well with our souls.....you got it all about real music....keep that up
Posted on October 25, 2014
i love lira...she is just great,the music ,the fashion everything..n to thing that she is being compared to beyonce eish i got no say bout that...buh lira u rock bby
Posted on October 25, 2014
Lira,its her music,not her body that intrigues and captivates
Posted on July 24, 2014
I love Bey, and her music, but there is really no comparison to Lira. This lady has class, she's sexy, but not in a provocative way, and like it or not, she is way more intelligent and articulate than Bey. Love ms Lira!
Posted on July 23, 2014
They are simlar in the sense that they are both immensely successful. Although their musical styles and personalities are different, they both command a great following and have remained relevent in the industry for longer than most artists. In South African terms, Lira is the closer to being a 'Beyonce' than any other artist in the country
Posted on July 23, 2014
Lira is the best... I'D love to see her perform someday
Posted on July 23, 2014
She would be great in the role of Nina Simone!
Young, Gifted and Black! and that's a fact!
Posted on July 8, 2014
Beauty, consciousness, grace, and spirituality are what radiate from Lira. Lira shares Love and creates community with that Love. Beyonce is part of the production of Mass Detraction, sad but true I hope she finds her way.
Posted on July 8, 2014
Diggin' it!! Great groove!!
Posted on July 7, 2014
They are in no way similar. Lira is more articulate and intelligent than Beyoncé. And, believe it or not, I like Beyoncé.
Posted on June 28, 2014
Beyoncé? Lmao
Posted on June 28, 2014
Posted on June 27, 2014
Posted on June 25, 2014

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