Telling her story during her visit to Namibia last weekend, South African (SA) singer, Lerato “Lira” Molapo, revealed that just like any other upcoming artist before the fame, she struggled and failed but her faith, determination, and spirit helped her to accomplish far more than she expected.
Though she started performing live at the age of 16, singing both cover versions and self-penned songs, Lira started off with as little as N$24 dollars in the bank account as a struggling artist. However, at the age of 28, she made her first million dollar. Lira who is an accountant by profession, started school at the age of four and matriculated at the age 16. She became a branch manager at a local bank in SA at the age of 21 but realised that money and status was not fulfilling and realised that music was fulfilling for her, so she left the corporate world. Though she learned a lot from the corporate environment, she decided to pursue her musical career and found unique ways to make it as a musician.
Lira said that she was faced with several roadblocks along the path to her ultimate success.She revealed that she was not getting money for shows when she first started and made ends meet just to take her music further even if it meant performing for free “I suffered from self-love and less of value. I had a believe systems that devalued me and that caused me to think and believe different. Things don’t work unless we have a long time plan, it’s a process, allow yourself to expand, develop and enjoy it. The process will benefit you,” she says.
Her spiritual journey started at the lowest point when things were tough but she later found purpose for and in her music. After drawing up a five year plan within a year she saved enough money from which she bought her first car and paid it off within two years of being an artist.“You have to believe that you can make it as a musician only then you will make it. I consider what I do as a business, it was a challenge when I started but one thing I’ve learned is to never be afraid to ask for help,” she says.
Lira goes on that musicians are not often taken serious because of the way they act and advises that they should start investing in themselves and spending their money wisely.“Use the money to build and expand yourself and not flash it or show off, don’t leave beyond your need. Musicians need to change. You can’t buy cars, spend money when you don’t have money for your burial.”
“Learn to honour yourself, it’s a healthy thing to cultivate. You need to change attitude with your money, it’s not for flashing and flaunting, take care of your money and it will take care of you. As you take yourself serious as an artist, people will take you serious and respect you” she continues, adding that musicians should stay informed and educate themselves.
Lira wants to be remembered as an African artist who displayed excellence and creative possibilities. “I’m an inspirational artist, the day I met love, that’s what I wanted to pour out in the world. It’s been hard work but it’s worth it. I invested in myself. The Namibian market is very small but become the solution. A lot of opportunities will come, so change your mindset and don’t use your own mouth to curse your life,” says Lira referring to herself as an “entertainment solution specialist”.
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 an 11 times South African Music Award-winning Afro-Soul vocalist who refers to her music as “a fusion of soul, funk, and 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.
Lira is the first African artist to be featured on the channel VHL with six albums and three DVDs under her belt. Earlier this year Lira released her sixth studio album, Born Free, featuring songs like “Rhythm of Your Heart,” “Listen,” Brave Heart” Let There Be Light” and “Be About It” exclusive for iTunes Africa.
The South African songstress, Lira, shared her life story and answered questions from fans at a two day events, of which one consisted of an artist workshop last Friday and continued the next day at the Warehouse Theatre in Windhoek last Saturday as a part of the Master Class series. The event was organized by 99FM, Flying Fish, My Republik and DStv.