Proudly South African

2011-10-21 00:00

“MY story is South African,” Lira says in a telephonic interview yesterday. Having toured the United States and Europe to sold-out crowds, she is sure of her roots. “As an artist, I want to be understood. And as a young South African who had a small taste of apartheid, I find that now, as a young generation, we’re trying to find who we are. I tried to explain [to audiences overseas] that we are learning to free ourselves mentally, rather than physically.

“It makes no sense for me to sell America to America,” she says, reflecting on how she connected with her audience. “But the music did influence me in certain ways.”

The European tour saw her performing in eclectic festival line-ups and various venues, where she sang only two songs in English. “I think because of all the artists who have been there in the past, they’re very accustomed to African languages, they’re very open-minded.”

Articulate and relaxed, she says that she probably won’t do something like her current Captured Tour for a little while. “On certain days, anything that can go wrong will go wrong,” she jokes. “I’m a perfectionist, so that can all overwhelm me.

“You go through such a roller coaster of emotions,” she says. “But there’s a lot of love that goes into this show, and I want people to feel it.”

Her stage name, Lira, came about in the early days of her career. “I needed a way to separate my private life from my public persona ... I’m quite a private person, and was initially overwhelmed by total disregard for personal space,” she laughs. “Once you’re out there, people do have a sense of ownership over you. So, Lira is the ‘superwoman’ who can handle it all’.”

Currently, she is touring southern African stages with The Captured Tour, a show that has been perfected through months of touring amd playing to thousands of new adoring fans across the world. The tour will culminate in a DVD recording at the Sun City Superbowl on October 29.

Robin Kohl, who produces Lira’s music and will head the DVD production, is also the singer’s husband. How do they manage their relationship?

“I think it helps that he works more in the background,” says Lira. “When I’m with him I can be myself, with no pretenses. He stays as that anchor for me, that serenity.”

The workload on tour, however, is obviously demanding. “When we’re working, you’d never know we were married.”

As much as she loves touring the world, Lira says South Africa is her home, “physically and spiritually”.

• Lira will perform at the ICC in Durban tomorrow night at 8 pm. Ticket prices start at R130, and can be bought from Computicket.

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