South African singing star LIRA puts on workshop for students
Published: October 6, 2012
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ST. CROIX - About 200 students from public, private and parochial schools sat and listened attentively as South African singing sensation LIRA sang words of encouragement and hopes for wealth through songs in her native Zulu tongue.
The student workshop was part of the activities surrounding the First Annual Women and Children's Caribbean Conference hosted by Luis Hospital. The conference also includes a benefit concert featuring LIRA tonight at Islands Center for the Performing Arts.
LIRA began her musical career eight years ago in South Africa, creating a unique mix of jazz and funk that she said is deeply rooted in African culture.
She has garnered many awards, including South African Music awards, MTV African awards and MOJO awards. She was named one of Glamour Magazine's Women of the Year and was nominated for 2012 BET Best International Artist.
LIRA has performed on the same card with Alicia Keys, Shakira and John Legend at the FIFA World Cup Kick-Off concert and also performed at the 92nd birthday celebration and former South African President Nelson Mandela.
LIRA called her opportunity to put on a concert in St. Croix for the second time in just more than a year an honor and a privileged, adding that she is even more blessed to be able to bring her music as a benefit for the hospital.
LIRA was perched upstage on the steps as she spoke with the students about her inspirations. She said being born into apartheid in South Africa, she saw family members being consumed by anger and oppression but realized that their outlook on life changed at a whim when they could enjoy music.
"It was like something of magic that they could embrace in their space that changed their world," she said. "It was the words and the beat that invigorated them and created a portal even for myself to travel into my own world."
She asked the students why they loved music, and many of the youngsters expressed that it was an escape from life and problems, it was a unique form of expression or because it gave them a new identity.
LIRA encouraged them to dream big and have a vision of what they want their lives to be and act on it.
"I began my career being very shy, but I looked in the mirror and spoke my positivity and boldness into existence," she said. "There is no real formula, but music will test the very fiber of who you are."
She encouraged the students to be true to themselves and dared them to change the system if they do not like how it is running.
"It does not matter how small you are," she said. "There is significance in your life, and your intentions set the end result of where you will end up."
The Virgin Islands Council on the Arts sponsored the student workshop, and Tasida Kelch, events coordinator at the council, said it was the council's way of getting the youth exposure to such a dynamic performer.
Tonight LIRA will take the stage at the Island Center for a benefit concert to support Luis Hospital's programs for women and children.
The South African vocalist was last in the territory performing with Hugh Masekela in March 2011.
She said Friday that artists such as Sade, Adele and Amy Winehouse have inspired her singing, while the late pop sensation Michael Jackson inspired her ability to take command of the stage.
The concert - with proceeds earmarked specifically for a maternal-fetal monitoring system at the hospital - is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. tonight. The maternal-fetal equipment will allow physicians to monitor the fetus on a wireless system.
Tickets for the concert are $45 for cushioned, undercover seats; $35 for undercover seats; and $25 for bleacher seats.
Tickets for the two fundraisers are available online at www.caribbeanfamilyhealth.org, or at Undercover Books, Essentric Boutique, Luis Hospital's gift shop or at the Island Center Box Office.
- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.