Johannesburg- South African songstress, Lerato Molapo, best known to her fans as Lira has been chosen from a shortlist of African musicians to perform at an inauguration ball for American president Barack Obama on January 21.
An ecstatic Lira said in Pretoria on Wednesday “I’m very excited. I got the invite about three weeks ago. The president will be present during my performance and I hope I get to meet him.
With her ever-graceful composure in the media’s eye, and her stage presence which some call silky and others say is scorching, Lira made no empty promises when she turned her gaze to the United States three years ago, fuelled with “big dreams” and set on enticing a global audience.
And entice the globe she has, as Obama’s inauguration ball- one of many held to thank the supporters and funders of his electoral campaign – is certainly no small event. In 2009, at the Neighbourhood Ball (the first of 10 similar events marking the President’s entry into the White House) Beyonce serenaded the President and First Lady through their opening dance. The evening also featured Jay-Z, Faith Hill, Shakira and Alicia Keys.
Set to give the performance of her life, on Sunday Lira tweeted: “Thanks guys. Its an honour beyond anything I’d imagined thus far. My band and I are extremely excited and are already preparing!”
During the inauguration taking place in Washington , Lira will perform two sets for about 200 people at the African-themed ball -one of the 10 official balls.
Lira’s husband and manager Robin Kohl confirmed in an interview with City Press that Lira had landed the prestigious gig, which he described as “massive”.
“We have been plugging away at the US market for three years now. We have an independent distributor and a publicist in Los Angeles. We have been there about three months of every year and people are now getting to know who she is.”
He added: “This is an amazing opportunity. The ball will be televised by networks from all over the world. The exposure is massive. How many people can say that they have performed live for an African-American US president?
“We are ecstatic about this. We have really worked hard at breaking into the US market and now it seems to be paying off at last” said Kohl.
Lira and her band are expected to leave on January 19. Meanwhile family, friends, fellow musicians and fans keep sending in their congratulatory messages to the singer via twitter , facebook and other social media networks.