Thursday 15 April 2021
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Master Class Lira in session

Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 9.40.17 AMA‘struggling musician once upon-a-time, it would be safe to say that Lira has seen it all.’ From unpaid performances and shady recording deals piled up CDs without buyers, to momentary glory and the usual downfall.
Born as Lerato Molapo, Lira started off as an Accountant, a profession in which she served for about two years, rising quite impressively through the ranks of her workplace. While in this auspicious position she realised that she did not get the content that she desired to fulfil herself. Despite having a well enough income and fancy title that came with it, she felt the strong urge to discover what it is that she truly wanted to make of herself. As a young lady she listened to Miriam Makeba, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin and Nina Simone, who inspired her into writing some of her hit songs and all of whom she still holds with very high esteem.
At age 21, Lira decided she had to take on her long-time dream of being an artist. She resigned from her accounting job, and wrote a five year plan of how she would rise up to be a celebrated music maker just like those that she looked up to. Her five-year plan included the receiving of at least three awards, a feature by a known US artist and a reasonable round of tours. She considered this an accomplishable goal given she had enough savings to take her for about a year, by which time she expected to have already been making good from her musical endeavours.
She shared her news with her mother, who to her continues to be a pillar of strength. Her mother received her new found path and encouraged her to do as much as she could knowing-well what a villain her daughter was. Lira encourages parents with Children that have dreams in the arts sector to support their child’s dreams and ensure that they always have a shoulder to lean on when times get tough. “Parents should support their ambitious children. It’s too hard to have to fight in the world of music, and then come home and have to fight that too.”
Lira is more than a house hold name to many music lovers. She is heard playing on Radio charts and in cars, homes and even workplaces. Familiar to the young and old, her ability to pierce through the ongoing of society with her music and create a symbiotic synchrony of familiarity and pleasure has remained relevant.
Unlike many other artists, Lira is an undergraduate student. She studied Accounting and used her skills to exchange for recording time at a local studio, resulting in her first demo at the age of 18.  While hers was not a planned outcome, it still alludes to the uniqueness of her persona. “You must educate yourself as an artist. It is very important to have a knowhow of the things that surround you by self-education; this can get you through so many complicated situations as an artist,” she said.
On the evening of Saturday, 20th August, this musical beauty took time to share some of her successes, challenges and trying moments to her fans in Windhoek. To her this was more of a heart to hearts conversation with those that have continuously supported her throughout her over 13 year journey on and off stages all over the world. A journey that has resulted in six albums, three platinums, 3 DVD’s (one of which is a best-selling record holder) and has launched in six different countries. She recalls that her first international tour was to Namibia, particularly Windhoek, Oshakati and Swakopmund, this being more than enough reason for her to come back to a vital part of where she started.
The morning sessions of the master class hosted by My Republik, was attended by local creative forces such as Lize Ehlers, Big Ben and Sean Kamati, and kicked off with a short welcome from comedienne Sibongile Tshabalala, after which Lira took the floor and captivated the audience with her take on the process of building a brand as an ‘entertainment specialist’.
With the help of Namibian brands, DSTV, My Republik, Flying Fish, 99FM and The Warehouse, Lira made her way to Namibia and interacted with her fans performing a range of her most known songs in intervals to the continuous applause of her fans.
Weeks after her resignation, Lira celebrated her 23rd birthday. For this auspicious occasion she was shocked when she was timely called out by a friend who was a sister to Arthur Mafokate, who signed her to his record label, 999 Music, and helped with the release of her debut album, ‘All My Love’ in 2003.
The album earned her accolades at the Metro FM Awards, South African Music Awards and Channel O Reel Music Awards. The title track even knocked Beyoncé’s single ‘Dangerously in Love’ off the charts. “It was hard because people could not match the face to the music. At times, I would introduce myself as the girl that did a certain song that they can remember but they usually wouldn’t believe me.”
She mentioned that throughout her career, she believed strongly in the existence of a Deity that gave her peace in some of her most trying times. She remembers a moment in her career when things seemed to fail and she was desolate. After a series of attempts to communicate with a super being that would once again reach out and salvage her from her situation. “I felt a warmth through my body, an assurance of a change of things… in that moment I was certain, my life was about to change.” This she says was the beginning of a massive turnaround for her. “With ZAR24 in my bank account, a failed career and back in the township… I walked around and realised that everything had changed – but really, nothing had changed only my perception of life.”
At this point, Lira gathered herself, together with keyboardist Victor Mngomezulu, bassist Tshepo Sekele, and producer Robin Kohl, they worked tirelessly to come up with a number of singles that they put together. For three years she continued to “work in the cracks” being referred from one person to another in a quest to find a breakthrough. She says “everybody needs help, don’t be afraid to ask; the worst one can say is no – then move on to the next one.”
These words proved true for Lira who eventually got in touch with a member of the Sony Music Africa. “When you know what works and what doesn’t, do what you can with what you have to get a different outcome from the normal.”
Lira emphasises that one must take the courage to believe in their abilities and strength to overcome all the challenges that they face. “No one will believe in you like you do – you can’t ever, not believe in yourself.” She recalls that even when she faced people that recommended to her to go back to her accounting profession where she would guarantee an income, she always remained resolute to the dream that she had. She, however, still recommends that one must always have a back-up plan for safety when tasting the waters.
She states that one thing she is proud of is her ability to educate herself on the demands of the career she has chosen. “I have made some tough decisions, but the comfort is that they always pay off.” Lira acknowledges that “there are too many people with the right visions and dreams but they just wait for life to turn into their direction… this rarely happens. You must lookout for your own.”
In 2009, Lira married old time friend and producer, Robin Kohl.
Of her works since 2003, she has been nominated and won some of the most prominent awards including Metro FM Awards, South African Music Awards, and Channel O Reel Music Award. Also, MTV Africa Awards, MOBO Awards, Feather Awards, Channel O Music Video Awards and even BET Awards, together with Africa Muzik Magazine Awards where she was nominated for Best Female Southern Africa.
In 2006, she released the album Feel Good, Soul in Mind was launched in 2008 in 2009 was Lira Live in Concert: A Celebration. The year 2011 brought both ‘Return to Love’ and ‘The LIRA EP’ on 9 August 2011. She soon after launched ‘Rise Again’ under Shanachie Records in 2014. Her recent album in 2016 under Otarel Music is called Born Free and is currently for sale.

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