More Than Just A Woman
Bona|July 2017

With four decades of experience between them in the entertainment industry, South African songbirds Lerato ‘Lira’ Molapo, Nhlanhla Nciza, and Moneoa Moshesh are more than meets the eye. They tell Lindiwe Twala about it.

Lindiwe Twala
The three song stresses have solidified themselves in music, television, fashion and the business world. They unapologetically hold the feminine flag high in what are still male-dominated industries. But, how do they do it all and overcome obstacles?

LIRA (38)

Singer-songwriter, producer, accountant, record label owner and TV personality

Throughout the interview, Lira uses her hands to emphasise points. As we’re chatting, she glances at her left hand and exclaims, “I’ve lost my ring!” She looks around her and doesn’t find it. “I’ll have to go back where I was before I came here,” she says. She doesn’t miss a beat though, and we continue with the interview. This discipline reflects how Lira presents herself to the world.

With 16 years in the entertainment industry, Lira’s marriage (to Jazzworx studio owner, Robin Kohl) is a big part of her life, but so is her individuality, businesses and general well-being. She tells me that her success was cemented by good mentorship.

And because she is more than just a musician, many big brands want to work with her, the newest being LUX. Lira, together with Moneoa and Nhlanhla, is involved in a campaign honouring multifaceted South African women, and celebrating their empowerment and Afrocentricity. The three musicians collaborated on a song, titled We Are More, which was released in June. I ask her how she chooses which brands to align with. “I choose brands that are aligned with my values. It would be contrived if I had to bend backwards in order to fit into a brand. It has to come naturally.”

JOY TO THE WORLD

“My daily practice is to tilt myself towards positivity. I know what makes me happy and I focus on that. That expands my creativity and brings me prosperity.”

Lira says this practice began years ago. In 2001, she quit her job as an accountant to pursue her dream. Two weeks later, she met kwaito kingpin Arthur Mafokate and was signed to his 999 Music recording company. She wrote and co-produced all songs on her debut album, All My Love. She, however, left the company because “it just wasn’t working out. I was going to die broke.”

Before releasing her groundbreaking album Feel Good in 2006, Lira made some changes. She registered her recording company, Oratel Music. “I needed to be in an environment whereI could be empowered. I wanted to own all my compositions and be my own publisher. That way, I’d be able to control my business ventures.” Lira released her sixth album, Born Free, in 2016, has had numerous endorsement opportunities and is a coach on M-Net’s show, The Voice. To top it all, her reality TV show, Dreamchasers, has been signed for a third season.

IT’S NOT JUST BLACK AND WHITE

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