Lira, Lerato Moipone Molapo, is a South Africa Afro-Soul singer who was discovered by famed South African Kwaito singer – record producer, Arthur Mafokate. Lira achieved wide recognition and success after the release of her debut album, All My Love, which multiple award nominations. She has also been nominated for Black Entertainment Television (BET)network’s BET Award in the “Best International Artist”.

Lira (Lerato Molapo)
Born Lerato Moipone Molapo
March 14, 1979
Daveyton, East Rand
South Africa
Known As Lira
Occupation Musician
Genre Afro-Soul, R&B
Since 2000 – to date
Record Label Sony Music Africa
Associated Acts Hugh Masekela
Simphiwe Dana
Miriam Makeba
Husband Robin Kohl
Agent Unknown
Website Unknown

Lira was born Lerato Moipone Molapo in Daveyton in the East Rand in Johannesburg in the Gauteng province of South Africa – at the time Transvaal Province of apartheid South Africa.

She is one of seven siblings – one of five girls, not all her siblings are her father’s biological children.

Lira’s father remarried and moved to the United States of America (USA)  when she was 7 years old. In a 2013 Times Live article, it is reported that Lira visited her father for the first time in the USA in 2010.

Lira was raised by her grandmother, Ntombithiyezinye Radebe, until she was 11 years old.

She moved in with her mother, Buyi Radebe Lichaba, and her stepfather, Webster “Neo” Lichaba. The couple saw her through her formative years.

Along with her best friend, at the age of 15 Lira teamed up with two male friends and entered a talent competition under the name Ecstasy. The  group won several prizes, including best performance, best composition and best vocals.

At the age of 16 she took a gap year before pursuing higher education. Lira used that year to explore her love of music by collaborating with many musicians from an English folk band to singing hooks on hip-hop tracks.

The following year she enrolled at the Vaal University of Technology to study a national diploma in accounting.While studying at Vaal, she met DJ Nutty Nice, who owned a recording studio. DJ Nutty Nice offered her unlimited studio time in return for doing bookkeeping for the holding company.

This was her first exposure to a recording studio studio environment, Lira took advantage of the opportunity by writing and producing her own songs. She began performing at student parties and universities in the Gauteng area.

Lira had to put the performing on hold as she began her internship at Morkels head office. Although she found the corporate world alluring, the lack “glamour” discouraged her from staying and she has described this period of her life as depressing.

With her mother’s blessing, Lira auditioned Arthur Mafokate, who was looking for new R&B acts for his 999 record label.



Music Career

In 2000 Lira signed with 999, this marked the beginning of her career in the music industry.  Her time at 999 Music was not without controversy, Lira felt she was just an afterthought to artists such as Ishmael of Jozi and Speedy of Bongo Maffin.

In 2003 she released All of My Love with Arthur Mafokate’s 999 Music. The album earned her accolades at the Metro FM Awards, South African Music Awards (SAMA) and Channel O Reel Music Awards.

After partnering with music producer Robin Kohl, Lira left 999 Music for Sony BMG under a negotiated settlement with Arthur Mafokate. She followed the move to Sony BMG by a genre switch to Afro-pop.

In 2006, under Sony BMG, Lira released her second album titled Feel Good. The album was also released in Italy, the USA and Thailand. The title song was included in the soundtrack of the USA sitcom Girlfriends. The album was certified Platinum.

In 2008 she released the 13-track Long Play (LP) Soul in Mind. It went on to set a SAMA record the following Summer for most Awards won in a single year (4) by a single artist. The album was certified Platinum.

In 2009 Lira recorded a live concert DVD. The live concert took place and filmed before a live audience at the Carnival City. The productions’ employment of 10 RED digital video cameras was a world’s first. The DVD soundtrack was released and was certified Platinum.

In November 2010 the DVD was released and reached 3x Platinum. The DVD became the South Africa’s fastest and highest selling music videodisc in the Sony Music catalogue, replacing Celine Dion’s No. 1 chart position for Live in Las Vegas; A New Day.

Also in 2010, Lira joined a star studded line up which included Alicia Keys, Shakira, K’Naan and John Legend, at the 2010 FIFA World Cup Kick-Off Concert performing a rendition of “Phata Phata” a hit song originally recorded by the late Miriam Makeba.

That same year, she was selected to take part in the 92nd birthday celebration of Nelson Mandela. The live televison broadcast in 3D directly to Nelson Mandela, her performance of the popular Labi Siffre anti-apartheid tune and Nelson Mandela‘s  favourite “(Something Inside) So Strong” with the Soweto Spiritual Singers remains one of the most prominent performances in her career.

In 2011 a Blu-ray version was released, it became the first Blu-ray to be released on the African continent. In January 2011 Lira released her fourth studio album Return to Love. Later that year she released the Lira Extended Play (EP).

On April 29, 2014 she released her debut American album “Rise Again” under Shanachie Records. A 14-track LP featuring songs from her African catalogue like “Feel Good” “Phakade” and “Rise Again”.




Year Album Label notes
2003 All My Love 999 Released by Lira, Debut Album
2006 Feel Good Sony BMG Africa Released by Lira
2008 Soul In Mind Sony BMG Africa Released by Lira
2009 Lira Live in Concert: A Celebration (Soundtrack) Sony BMG Africa Released by Lira
2010 Lira Live in Concert: A Celebration (DVD) Sony BMG Africa Released by Lira
2011 Return to Love Sony BMG Africa Released by Lira
2011 Lira Live in Concert; A Celebration (Blu-ray) Sony BMG Africa Released by Lira
2011 The Lira EP Sony BMG Africa Released by Lira
2014 Rise Again Shanachie Records Released by Lira



Awards and Nominations

Lira is among the most recognized artists in South Africa. Since her debut album in 2003 up to 2014, she has been a nominee on the 8 of 11 South African Music Awards (SAMA) ceremonies that have taken place during her time. Furthermore, in 2013 Lira was nominated for Black Entertainment Television (BET)network’s BET Award in the “Best International Artist”.

In 2009 she won Glamour magazine Woman of the Year award.

In 2011 Lira was presented with the Inspiration Award and in December 2011 she was named one of the “Five Unique Artists to Change Music in 2012” by Essence Magazine.



Year Award Work Category Result
2004 Metro FM Awards All My Love Best R&B Album Nominated
Best Vocalist, Best Newcomer Nominated
2004 South African Music Awards 10 All My Love Best R&B Album Nominated
2004 Channel O Reel Music Award All My Love Unknown Winner
2006 South African Music Awards 12 Feel Good Best New Artist, Best Female Artist  Nominated
Best R&B Album Nominated
Best Video, Best Single Nominated
2007 South African Music Awards 13 Feel Good Best Music Video Winner
2008 South African Music Awards 14 Feel Good Best Selling Download (Feel Good), Winner
Best Music Video (Ixesha) Winner
2009 South African Music Awards 15 Soul in Mind Best Female Artist
Best Adult Contemporary Album Winner
Best Album of the Year Winner
Best Remix of the Year (Feel Good) Winner
2009 MTV Africa Awards Soul in Mind Best Female Artist, Artist of the Year Nominated
2009 MOBO (Music of Black Origin) Awards Soul in Mind Best Africa Act Nominated
2009 Channel O Reel Music Awards Soul in Mind Best Female Artist Nominated
2009 South African Music Awards 16 Lira Live in Concert: A Celebration Best Female Artist, Best Global Chart DVD Winner
Best Album Packaging Nominated
2010 Feather Awards Lira Live in Concert: A Celebration Unknown Winner
2011 Channel O Music Video Awards Lira Live in Concert: A Celebration Most Gifted Female Video Winner
Most Gifted Video of Year Nominated
2012 South African Music Awards 18 Return to Love Record of the Year, Best Producer Nominated
Remix of the Year Nominated
Best Smooth Urban, Best Engineer Nominated
2012 BET Awards Return to Love Best International Artist Nominated
2013 South African Music Awards 19 Return to Love Best Live DVD Winner
2014 Africa Muzik Magazine Awards Unknown Best Female Southern Africa Pending



Other Work

In 2006 Lira appeared as herself on the fourth episode of the first season of of the SABC 1 drama, Tshisa.

Making Herstory - Lira - LeratoIn 2009 she joined a contingent of celebrities (Loyiso Bala, Tasha Baxter, Hendrik Cronje, Sizwe Dhlomo,  Kelly Khumalo,  Bianca Le Grange, Shashi Naidoo, Trevor Noah and Speedy) on the second season of Tropika Island of Treasure which took place in Zanzibar – the eventual winner was Shashi Naidoo and her partner, Cuan Bergman.

In May 2012 she appeared in L’Uomo Vogue’s “Re-Branding Africa” issue featuring General Ban Ki-Moon on the cover where she said, “We’re a young democracy, and we’re accustomed to an image of Africa as a place that expects outside help. We must instead take stock of our situation, become autonomous, find our identity and independence”.

In November 2013 Lira released an autobiography titled “Making Herstory” with assistance from her husband Robin Kohl and journalist Clyde Meela. The book, Making Herstory features a foreword by legendary South African musician Hugh Masekela.

She is involved in various grassroots organizations, outreach groups and advocacy programs such as the Student Sponsorship Programme. Lira has also participated in numerous activities for The Southern Africa Trust.


Personal Life

In march 2004 Lira began dating record producer and mentor Robin Kohl.

On September 9, 2009 (09.09.09/ 999) Lira married boyfriend of 5 years, Robin Kohl, in Mauritius – the wedding was reportedly attended by 15 immediate family members.