South African singer Lira had an amazing opportunity to sing in the United States after the inaugural ball for the Obamas in 2013. Now, she has been invited back to the United States in a whirlwind 11-date tour that will see her wow audiences from Atlanta to Washington, D.C., from 18 June to 5 July, according to Destiny Connect.
According to Lira, she nabbed the U.S. tour opportunity, after Shanachie Entertainment record label executive Randall Grass was impressed with her set during the inauguration. Afterward, he approached her and made her an offer she couldn’t refuse.
“He saw people reacting to the music and decided to sign me up. The decision was taken to repackage my ‘Rise Again’ album, which will be a combination of my last three albums. It’s more logical to release music that fans are familiar with and love.
“Lauryn Hill came to South Africa a few years back and performed songs that people didn’t know. It would have been great if she had done music that people had grown to love,” says Lira.
After Lira was signed to the label, the next step was to arrange for her reworked album to be marketed all over the States. For the past two months, the Sama winner has been busy promoting her music through interviews with U.S. media outlets.
“It’s been a mammoth task – expanding my career to the maximum. I’ve been [going to sleep] at 1a.m. practically every day since April,” she said. “It’s exciting to have a full U.S. tour. I’ve always wanted to do this, and for me it’s a mind-blowing and great achievement.”
Lira, who has become popular over the years, has been liaising with her U.S. team via Skype. In fact, fans and those looking to collaborate with her can simply find her profile on the Internet and make contact.
While she has not partnered with any corporate sponsors, Lira says she has invested in her tour through the resources she has accumulated throughout her career. “It’s not easy to get sponsors. I am fortunate that I have been responsible for my career and am able to budget as needed.”
As for her American fans, Lira said that her audience tends to be a mix of curious music enthusiasts, expats, and people from the African diaspora, “The point is to connect with my audience and get new fans. The reason my shows tend to sell out is because the venues I perform at have great reputations and that’s where the magic happens.”
With her “Rise Again” album having debuted at No. 75 on the Billboard chart, Lira says she has learned that the music industry in the States is far more complex than her local one.
Instead of listing herself under the worldwide category, though, Lira selected the urban category.
The worldwide category includes a variety of international music and has its own group in the highly contested Grammy Awards. Ladysmith Black Mambazo, for example, has won this category four times. Had Lira listed under it, her music would have debuted much higher during her album’s first week of sales.
“I face stiff competition, but I’m in a position where I can influence where my music goes next. I may have compromised a Grammy opportunity, but I’d rather be in an authentic space.”
Get more information on Lira’s U.S. tour here.