Interview with Lira

Posted February 11th, 2013 at 5:28 pm (UTC+0)
1 comment

Heather Maxwell and colleague Carol Van Dam on the rooftop of the Voice of America building on Inauguration Day, January 21st, 2013, Washington D.C.

On Monday January 21st, our nation’s capital celebrated the inauguration of our President, Barack Obama, for a second term. Our Voice of America headquarters is located just a few blocks away from the Capitol Building where the swearing in ceremonies and ensuing parades took place.

American celebrity singers, 2013 Grammy Award winners Kelly Clarkson, Beyoncé, and James Taylor performed live at the swearing in ceremony. That evening, many other American superstars performed at the two official parties in the Washington Convention Center — The Commander In Chief’s Ball and the Inaugural Ball. The line-up included Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson, FUN., John Legend, Katy Perry, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Usher and many others. There were also several unofficial balls sponsored by local and national organizations, and it is at one such soiree, the Ambassadors Inaugural Ball, where South Africa’s own celebrity Lira headlined a lineup of mostly international artists — Mi Casa Music, Biz Markie and Anane Vega.

Sadly, I wasn’t able to see Lira’s performance at the Ball but my VOA colleagues Abdushakur Aboud and Ndimyake Mwakalyelye covered the event

The following day, Lira came into the studio to chat with me. In the following interview, she  reveals news and ideas about her music choices for the Ball and what it meant to sing in honor of President Obama’s inauguration. She talks about Miriam Makeba and the opportunities she and other exiled artists have given her through their sacrifices. We talk about her Makeba-inspired leopard print dress, her music video “Phakade”, future music projects, and her dedication to education back home in South Africa. Lira’s enthusiasm and self confidence is infectious and makes one want to adopt her mantra, as stated at the end of our interview, “Do what you can with what you have where you are right now!” – Lira.

 

 

Lira and Heather in Studio 4 at VOA, January 22, 2013  [include "Video 1"]

Lira performing at the Ambassadors Ball, January 21st, 2013. Photo by Abduhshakur Aboud.

Dr. Heather Maxwell
Dr. Heather Maxwell produces and hosts the award winning radio program "Music Time in Africa" and is the African Music Editor for the Voice of America. Heather is an ethnomusicologist with a Ph.D. from Indiana University specializing in African Music. She is also an accomplished jazz and Afrojazz/Afrosoul vocalist and has been working, researching, and performing in Africa and the U.S. since 1987.

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Heather Maxwell produces and hosts the award-winning radio program “Music Time in Africa” and is the Africa Music Director for the Voice of America. Heather is an ethnomusicologist with Doctorate and Master’s degrees from Indiana University specializing in African Music. She is also an accomplished jazz and Afrojazz/Afrosoul vocalist and has been working, researching, and performing in Africa and the U.S. since 1987.

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