When Afro-soul songstress Lira heard that an upcoming issue of Italian men's magazine L'uomo Vogue will focus on Africa, she saw an opportunity and turned it into a reality. Lira’s publicist got in touch with Franca Sozzani, Editor-in-Chief of L'uomo Vogue, who explained they were publishing a "Rebranding of Africa" issue. Lira is featured in the May edition, which has UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the cover. DESTINY spoke to Lira about her latest venture.
Within the past year, your star has kept rising. How does it feel to be recognised on an international scale?
It is incredibly rewarding because this shows the fruits of our labour. I made it no secret last year, when I released my fourth studio album Return to Love, that I have my eye on building an international career. This just shows that we are gaining momentum.
What does being in L'uomo Vogue mean to you?
This is a huge milestone for me. I’m featured in the May issue that focuses on the rebranding of Africa as a business destination. I get to speak on behalf of my country (and continent) not just as a musician, but as a post-apartheid child who is making strides globally.
Were you approached by L'uomo Vogue?
My publicist spoke with Sozzani and she was interested in including me. We had heard talk that they were doing an Africa themed issue similar to "The Black Issue" of Vogue Italia that came out in 2008 and I was excited to be part of it.
Would you consider accepting more offers to model?
I enjoy modelling and my career has allowed me various opportunities to model and I’d love to do more of it.
What was the experience like for you?
The L'uomo Vogue shoot was completely different to anything I had ever done before, particularly because I had to wear men’s clothes. It was quirky and playful. I wore minimal make up and it was quite androgynous.
Did you travel to Italy for the shoot?
No, we actually shot it in Johannesburg. We worked with an amazing local photographer by the name of Roelof van Wyk. We used South African stylist Louw Kotze and make-up artist Nthato Mashihi. This was an important element for me, because the shoot effectively featured all South African talent.
You have recently appeared on two other international magazines. How essential is cementing yourself as an international brand to you?
To date, my publicist has managed to get me on fifteen magazine cover stories worldwide. This has been incredible, considering that I don’t yet have my music on sale in other parts of the world; however, my story is appealing to them. The focus in these publications has been on my music, my forthcoming US album release, beauty, hair, fashion as well as South African culture in general.
You obviously have a great team backing you. How important is it for artists to invest in a proper management team?
I think this is what made all the difference in launching my career internationally. It took two years to put a team together. I have a great publicist who is based in Los Angeles, USA, a co-manager based in New York as well as a booking agent in New York. I also have a social media marketing team who are also in Los Angeles. This extends beyond just my team here in SA.
How do you strike a balance between your work and personal life?
My life is scheduled. I try to stick to this schedule so I can fit everything in. My mornings generally belong to me and my work day starts at 10am whenever possible. This structure helps me stay sane. I take breaks as often as I can and during this time, I get out of the city. I try to stay off my phone and computer. I’m managing fairly well.
What are your plans for the near future?
My focus right now is on reaching and growing my American fan base. I'll spend a few months in the United States touring and will release my debut American album, Rise Again, most likely in early 2013. I'm also finalising my second live-in-concert DVD Lira: The Captured Tour, which will be released in Africa this autumn. Next month the Antonio Falduto directed film The Italian Consul will be released in Italy – I star as supporting lead role.