Lerato Molapo, known professionally as Lira, is a South African singer. She was born in Daveyton, on Johannesburg’s East Rand. Her name translates to “love” in Sesotho and she speaks four languages. She is a multi-platinum selling and a 11x South African Music Award-winning Afro-Soul vocalist who refers to her music as “a fusion of soul, funk, elements of jazz and African.
Her world was shaped by the harsh realities of South Africa’s formerly racial and socioeconomic apartheid. She grew up listening to Miriam Makeba, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin and Nina Simone who would eventually inspire her own songwriting. She began performing live at the age of 16, singing both cover versions and self-penned songs.
As an undergraduate student, Lira 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. Upon graduation, Lira continued in accounting for two years. With ambitions to be a singer she turned in her letter of resignation and created a five-year plan for her music career.
In 2000 she was discovered by musician and producer Arthur Mafokate, who had her sign with his own record label, 999 Music, and helped her release her debut album, All My Love (2003).
Having left 999 Music, Lira teamed up with keyboardist Victor Mngomezulu, bassist Tshepo Sekele, and producer Robin Kohl and in 2006 released Feel Good, a much more accomplished work that revealed her as a talented artist, able to move easily from modern R&B to jazz, from lush pop to bossa. A huge success, it led to five nominations at the South African Grammy Awards (Best New Artist, Best Female Artist, Best R&B Album, Best Single, and Best Video). In July 2007 the album was released in Italy, where its title track gained massive airplay.
Released in 2008, her sophomore album, Soul in Mind, garnered several South African Music Awards nominations and ultimately took home the Album of the Year prize. In 2009 she released the DVD Live in Concert: A Celebration, which showcased a performance at the Carnival City Casino in Boksburg, South Africa. The DVD was a huge commercial success, earning triple platinum status. She released her third studio album, Return to Love, in January of 2011. That same year, she released the five-track The Lira EP.