Lira bares her soul

2013-10-13 14:00

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Musician’s autobiography spills the beans on how she was treated at 999 Music, writes Lesley Mofokeng

Lira has finally broken her silence about the tumultuous relationship she had with Arthur Mafokate at 999 Music.

Her autobiography, Making Herstory, celebrates 10 years since the release of her debut album. The musician, born Lerato Moipone Molapo, lifts the lid on how she was treated at the kwaito label.

Speaking to City Press on Friday, Lira said she realised she might hurt and upset some people with the revelations contained in the book.

“The intention of the book is clear. I needed to get real in order to connect with people on a real level. And I will have to deal with the consequences, but I am trusting that in being honest I will be safe.

“Often, when you try to create change and put yourself out there, you might have stones thrown at you. I might have finally given people the one thing to bring me down in whatever way, so I’ve prayed to God to help me stay strong.”

Lira said she learnt to strengthen her mind and ride out negativity. She said she saw any hostile reception as an opportunity to get even stronger.

In the book she reflects on her journey, which she said “wasn’t an easy start”.

“But now I am able to share the human story, the resilience of the human spirit. This is a chance to reflect on the journey. I realise that I haven’t been doing that. Every year, I have just been running, achieving things and shifting the goal posts and I haven’t stopped to look at what happened in the last decade.”

Anyone who aspires to be a successful musician will have a lot to learn from the book.

For example, she writes: “I wrote a song called You Can’t Love Me and had Queen (Sesoko) listen to it – and she loved it. While I was at home over the weekend, she recorded the song, describing it as her own. This broke my heart. She named it You Can’t. The song was included as part of her album and I was hurt by the fact that no one bothered to ask me if this was okay. This was the first bitter pill I swallowed, and it made me realise that I had to look out for myself.”

But she maintained it was not negative. “It’s just a human recollection of how the experience at 999 was from my perspective. You will be amazed at how much that kind of stuff (stealing of songs) happens. There’s been a lot of stories around 999 and Arthur. This is just one of them. Arthur comments on that in the book. He didn’t give out much information, as Arthur would, but he was able to state his story, which I thought was important. There’s no bad blood.”

The 268 pager, featuring a foreword by Hugh Masekela, is divided into three sections, written by Lira, journalist Clyde Meela and her producer husband Robin Kohl.

It addresses aspects of her life she has kept private so far. She writes openly about her relationship with her husband, her family dynamics and her spirituality, which she describes as “more practical than mystical”.

She discloses her approach to finances and how artists can ensure their longevity with prudent financial planning.

“For aspiring musicians, I discuss the songwriting process, building your confidence, creating and honing your stage craft and understanding how we actually make money out of the industry.

“I also delve into how it was to live in an apartheid environment and experience the transition.

“Some of my brand values are influenced by the fact that I grew up in South Africa at a time when we were oppressed. It influenced a lot of my thinking. It made me determined to achieve my goals, because I was told that I am a black person and I am nothing, and how I overcame those negative connotations.

“I feel most of my generation still struggles with that on a mental level and I go down and discuss all these things. I think anyone who reads will have a fresh take on how we move forward. The born-frees will have a sense of purpose too. At least, I hope so.”

She said the difficulty of writing was deciding what she wanted to say and how to say it.

The young journalist Meela interviewed people who worked with Lira, and Kohl unpacks the business side of Lira’s work.

She said: “Reading books made a huge difference in my life. I can’t discount the importance of reading, so I’m supporting the very thing I feel passionate about by placing my story in a book. Hopefully we’ll breed new readers in this way.

“This is a perfect platform to treat my reader as an old friend. We are sitting together across the table and I am taking them along this journey. There’s a lot of things I have never mentioned in interviews, because I am usually wary of being misinterpreted.”

Lira will promote her book with a tour of Joburg, Durban and Cape Town. Making Herstory will be in stores on November 5.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=St-0v5rHSSg

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