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Melodies that calm the soul

In the creation of music I hardly see the process as a challenge. 

Famous singer, model and actress LERATO MOLAPO, also known as LIRA has carved her way into millions of hearts around the world

Before becoming the profound Female artist she is today, Lira had first tried pursuing a career in accounting however her love for music was stronger. Since being discovered by Arthur Mafokate in 2000, Lira has made her mark gaining multiple accolades in her music career not only in South Africa but all over the world. South African artist did not just stop in South Africa, her music was recognised all over the world starting with her Feel Good album that was released in Italy in 2007. Lira has spread her wings quite wide because she is not only a musician but an actress as well, who played the supporting lead role in an Italian Film that was a collaboration between SA and

Italy. Touring around the world expressing herself through her music and taking her fans into her life behind the scenes with her documentary called “Lira-Dream Chaser” has made her even more loved by the rest of the world. Lira discussed this and more with Tribe Business Magazine.

■ From performing live at the age of 16 to performing at the Grammys in 2020, where did your love for music start and who inspired you?

I did not perform at the Grammy’s, I performed at an event with voting members of the Grammy’s, during the Grammy weekend, which is a great platform to introduce yourself and your work to people who can one day vote for you if you are nominated for a Grammy. My love and appreciation for music started in Wattville in Ekurhuleni where I was born. There was always music being played at the Shabeen down the street or at some house in the neighbourhood, typically with the speakers blasting so we could all hear. I loved how music would capture everyone in some form or another. Children would dance, mothers would sing along unconsciously as they passed by on the way home from work, and the odd drunk guy would stop and break into a dance to entertain us the kids playing in the street. Music coloured our world in a way that captivated me as a child. I could see that it was a form of outlet for everyone and I think this is what made me want to be a musician- I wanted to write the kinds of songs that would move people, young an old and uplift them the same way I witnessed in my youth.

We as the audience only see the final product of music. What are the challenges you face when composing and creating music?

In the creation of music I hardly see the process as a challenge – it’s actually a wonderful creative process. Perhaps something that might be a challenge is capturing what you’re trying to convey through a song with lyrics that make sense, that rhyme and that work with a melody. Finding the right words can take a while, you may know what kind of feeling you want to capture but translating a feeling into words can be challenging. I have found that through the years, it is of great value to write with several people in the room so that you can share ideas- this makes it easier and quicker. Once this process is done, you create the perfect music to capture the mood and the feeling- oftentimes a listener will connect to the music and melody before they pay attention to the words, so this is very important.

With always doing tours and traveling, how do you juggle work life and family time?

Luckily, most touring and performances happen from Thursdays to Sundays, leaving the rest of the week open to more family life. Even though we do work in the office most times, I’m still able to spend time with my loved ones and to cook or go out for a meal. I feel I have a good balance there.

What was the vision behind creating your documentary ‘Lira – Dream Chaser’?

This was sparked by the desire to capture my experiences as I pursued a career internationally. I was being interviewed on CNN, doing magazine shoots , performing on TV morning shows and its was so exciting that it made sense to capture this in order to share with my fans. I also felt that anyone wanting a career in music might benefit from seeing what it takes and the fact that it’s not just glitz and glamour, that it gets rough behind the scenes. The love and passion for it is what keeps us going. It is a fun way to live, that’s for sure.

Not only are you a singer but an actress as well. Tell us more about how you got involved in acting?

I have acted in one feature film in 2010 which was co-produced by an Italian and South African company, written and directed by an Italian director Antonio Falduto which was centred around human trafficking but tells a story of these two women who come from very different backgrounds, brought together by their love for man. It is called The Italian Consul and I played the lead supporting role. It was completely out of my comfort zone but the director has been to South African several times to audition people for this role and he didn’t find what he was looking for. He saw me in an in-flight magazine and thought I looked perfect, he then googled me and found videos of my performances and decided that he would find me so I could audition. I had never acted before but in his mind, the fact that I was a performer meant that I could easily transition into acting, so after about 8 months of us trying to be at the same place at the same time, we met and I was given the script and the chance to audition. He actually came to my office to audition me and thought I could do it. The South African company had their own independent audition which I also passed and so my acting experience began like that. I worked with an acting coach and it was a really great role though it was very challenging, I loved it. I was subsequently offered two more roles where I experienced the challenge of scheduling because I was touring so I had to let them go. I’d love to do it again, time permitting.

What are the challenges that came with producing and performing music during the pandemic?

My attitude around the pandemic, which I initially thought would last a few months was that this would be an opportunity to really take a break and rest. I felt like I’d been running from gig to gig and goal to goal for 18 years without a proper break. This was a time for rest without feeling guilty.It gave me a time to really reflect and appreciate how far I had come and to take stock of where my life is at. By the second month it was clear that we had to find new ways of keeping busy, I had to find an online performing solution. I was in Namibia but I had travelled with my portable studio set up so I did my first online performance which, although it sounded great, was actually disastrous in terms of internet connection and lighting. I had to learn fast and make improvements, but with every performance I gave, there was great improvement. I was performing alone without my band and it was strange performing to a camera with no audience in the room but I felt that I was growing in ways I never expected. I was actually grateful to still be working and reaching audiences. I was performing mainly for corporate, for their conferences which were held online and I did a few public performances. I worked throughout the pandemic.

With the music industry constantly changing, how do you manage to stay true to your own way of making music as opposed to the ever changing trends today?

Now this is a real challenge because I’m aware that change is inevitable, our whole music world has changed. I think I’m still working out what changes are worth making and which ones I can’t, based on the need to retain my essence as an artist.

What has been the highlight of your career since you started up until now?

I’ve had so many. Performing in Washington during Barack Obama’s second inauguration, performing at the opening concert of the World Cup in 2010, my very first arena concert and subsequent arena tour which no other South African female artist has done. The fact that I am the first African Barbie role model are just some of my most favourite highlights.After becoming Barbie’s first African role model, what message do you think it gave black women in the world, especially in Africa? That this is our time, we are being seen for the unique beauty that we each possess. I think it made every black woman see what’s also possible. African is being celebrated globally and Africans can now stand up as who they truly are. It is an exciting time to be African.

With achieving everything you have achieved in the last 19 years whilst being a black female in the music industry and the modelling industry, what is the most important lesson you have learnt that you still live up to today?

I see that my dreams and ambitions are valid, I do see that the things that I saw as struggles and injustices of my experience as a young black female actually fuelled me and helped give me the drive to change things. I now see how it all served me. I have no regrets but I actually appreciate it all. I’m very proud and grateful for where my life is at. Although some challenges remain, my life overall is completely different from what it was when I first started. Our dreams and desires are valid, anything is possible if you’re willing to go for it. 

Join Lira at MyMastery. For more information www.mymastery.tv The only local online subscription learning platform where you can learn on demand, in your own time, with exclusive video access to selected individual and often iconic “masters” such as Lira, in a structured curriculum

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