VIDEO: Singer Lira represents for S. Africa

South African singer Lira.

By// Miki Turner

Meet the new Mother Africa.

Lira, the South African singer who inherited that title from the late Miriam Makeba, sat down with us in Los Angeles recently. Lira was nominated for a 2012 BET Award in the best international artist category.

While she didn’t win, the singer/songwriter whose latest CD Rise is doing just that on the charts, has definitely won over audiences in Africa, Europe and now the United States. Last summer she performed in New York, D.C., L.A. and Philly, selling out venues in each spot. caught up with Lira in Brentwood, Calif., just before she left for a series of concerts in Italy.

Born Lerato Molapo in Johannesburg’s Daveyton township, Lira first began performing at 16 and got her first record deal in 2000, the year she released her first CD, All My Love. Lira describes her sound as Afro-Soul and says she was heavily influenced by Anita Baker, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder and Nina Simone.

Check out our interview with Lira below and then listen to a clip of her on stage.