Afro-Soul artist Lira dominated the 15th MTN South African Music Awards, held in the Sun City resort outside of Johannesburg.
The Sony Music Entertainment artist’s third album, “Soul In Mind,” took home the night’s big award – album of the year – along with three other SAMAs including female artist of the year and best adult contemporary album: English.
It was a triumph for Lira who began her career as a kwaito starlet for the Johannesburg-based indie 999 Music with the 2003 album “All My Love” and has grown into a respected songwriter and artist since switching to Afro-soul.
Internationally regarded jazz pianist and songwriter Abdullah Ibrahim was named best male artist for his album “Senzo” (Gallo Records), his first new solo piano recording in a decade.
Grammy Award-winning traditional act Soweto Gospel Choir earned the best duo/group SAMA for “Live At The Nelson Mandela Theatre” (Universal), while Andile Mseleku’s “Essence of Joy” (EMI) saw the Kwa-Zulu Natal-based artist being named best newcomer.
Afrikaans music shone in several categories: newcomer Lianie May took home the best-selling album trophy (for “Vergeet My Nie” on Mozi Musiek), while Elizma Theron en Nicholis Louw won in two new categories, best-selling full track download and best-selling true tone, with their song “Kom ons vat ‘n Kans.”
Rhythmic Elements’ brand of traditional house music also proved a winner on the night: the duo’s ‘2 by 2’ (from the Universal album “The Offering”) took home the only publicly voted award, for MTN Record of the Year.
The annual record industry celebration is organized by the Recording Industry of South Africa (RISA) with sponsorship from cellular operator MTN and a main broadcast partner in SABC 1, which screened the awards live on May 2.
An academy of close to 194 judges drawn from the industry chooses the nominees and final winners in 50 categories, with a further seven awards based on sales.